Freya Anderson was tipped to be one of the faces of British swimming in Tokyo but as the medals have poured in for her teammates, she's been left to wonder what has gone wrong.
An early final appearance in the women’s 4x100m freestyle was a good start to the 20-year-old’s maiden Games but since then she has gone out at the semi-final stage of the 100m and 200m freestyle.
With Rebecca Adlington as her idol and seen by many as Britain’s next great female swimmer, it has unquestionably been a disappointing meet, with Anderson searching for answers as to why she has struggled while GB enjoy their best performance in the pool in more than a century.
She said: “On reflection, the past year has not had the perfect run-in for me. Hopefully I can get back to training and put in a good block together instead of picking up the pieces.
“It’s hard, as an athlete you can forget that everyone goes through injuries and setbacks, you have to remember it. Everyone goes through it, so I can get out of it.
“Since December, I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury and in January, February, I tore a disc in my back so I’ve not really hard two months of training put together. It’s two weeks of good training and then a setback, I just have to be proud that I got here in one piece.”
Despite those struggles, Anderson returned from the European Championships in May with five gold medals, all in relays, while she has watched on as Bath teammate Tom Dean has won two gold medals in Tokyo.
After going out of the 100m freestyle on Thursday morning, Anderson responded with a fine swim in the mixed medley relay heats, helping the team qualify fastest for the final in an Olympic record, alongside Adam Peaty, among others.
That relay has a strong chance of following in the footsteps of the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay in claiming gold, which would make for a very welcome return from a frustrating meet.
And for Anderson, still only 20, the fact that Paris is just three years away has just left her eager for more.
Anderson, whose Tokyo exploits are being broadcast live on Eurosport and Discovery+, added: “I just have to think that my time will come later. I’ve put all my faith into Dave [McNulty, coach], I know he can get me back to where I used to be, hopefully next year I can be back.
“It’s not good to have a knockback at the Olympic Games. It’s not the meet I expected but it is what it is, that’s sport and I have to use it to my advantage and use it as motivation.”
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