While competing at the 2016 Olympic Games, the British Olympic swimming team had its best outing in 108 years. The squad claimed a total of 6 medals in Rio, including an individual gold by 100m breaststroke world record holder Adam Peaty.
Also noteworthy was how the British squad scored a total of seven 4th place finishes over the 8-day competition, a fact which may point to the talent brewing in GBR, just waiting to pounce in Tokyo. Or, according to British Head Coach Bill Furniss, the 4th place phenomena may be by-product of the sport needing a tougher stance on doping.
Below are the 4th place finishers for GBR in Rio:
Ben Proud – men’s 50 freestyle – 0.19 from the bronze
James Guy – men’s 200 freestyle – 0.26 from the bronze
Andrew Willis – men’s 200 breaststroke – 0.08 from the bronze
Max Litchfield – men’s 400 IM – 1.91 from the bronze
Fran Halsall – women’s 50 freestyle – 0.02 from the bronze
Chloe Tutton – women’s 200 breaststroke – 0.06 from the bronze
Hannah Miley – women’s 400 IM – 0.15 from the bronze
Several of the aforementioned athletes competed in events in which a swimmer previously punished for doping finished in a higher position in Rio. For instance, James Guy placed 4th in the 200m freestyle, an event in which Chinese swimmer Sun Yang earned gold. Sun Yang served a short ban in 2013 for testing positive for doping.
Fran Halsall finished 4th in the women’s 50m freestyle, a race whose bronze medal was won by Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia who served a 2-year ban back in 2003.
Says Furniss of the aforementioned scenarios, “It sticks in my throat that we have had seven fourths and in at least three of those finals an individual [has previously] failed a drug test. I didn’t say anything about it in the build-up because it was a distraction but I think we have been penalised more than any other nation here.” (The Guardian)
“Look at the races and look at the statistics. You know it’s out there, it’s in the public domain. I’m not going to mention names. But as a nation, we fell foul of it. It’s hard to take. My message to the people who govern our sport is that we want a clean sport. My message is that I have got certain individuals to whom I have got to explain [this]. They have done everything right and are not being looked after. Everything seems to be focused around how fair we can be to people who have not passed drugs tests. It is just not right. It sticks in my throat,” Furniss continued. (The Guardian)
“I think if you fail a drugs test you should not be at the Olympic Games. I can’t say it any more clear than that. It’s hard to take; it’s shambolic.”