Matt Richards swimming

Matt Richards. Pic: Getty Images

Matt Richards Heads Five Star Welsh Group Heading For Paris Olympics

By James Candy

World champion Matt Richards will head five Welsh swimmers who have been selected for Great Britain at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

Richards, Medi Harris, Daniel Jervis and Kieran Bird will fly the flag for Wales as part of Team GB during the Olympic pool programme, while Hector Pardoe – who earned a bronze medal at February’s World Championships – will race in the 10km open water marathon event.

The five-star showing is only one swimmer fewer than the super six Welsh swimmers who went to the delayed Tokyo Olympics three years ago.

The Welsh athletes will make up over 15 per cent of the 33-strong British swimming team set to take on the world at La Defense Arena in July and August.

The 21-year-old Richards ended a 109-year wait for a Welsh gold medal in the pool when he clinched 4x200m freestyle relay glory in Tokyo three years ago.

A string of stunning performances at the Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships saw him earn nomination times in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle events in Paris, where the 2023 world champion will also be a core member of the relay teams.

Distance specialist Jervis of Swansea University is also returning for his second Games after finishing fifth the 1500m final in Tokyo.

The 28-year-old, who was cruelly ruled out of the Commonwealth Games in 2022 due to COVID-19, will return to the Olympic stage after claiming the British title and smashing the nomination time in 14:47.94.

Jervis said: “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I’m so excited to get into training and get ready for the Games now. You never get used to the feeling, the support from my family and friends has been unbelievable and I’m so lucky.

“It hasn’t been smooth sailing since Tokyo, which was the best experience of my career. It’s been pretty tough since then.

“I wanted to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games and that was taken away from me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome these challenges and I didn’t think I could for a long time.

“Swimming can take so much from you but in these moments, it gives it all back.”

Bird, who also competed in Japan, won the British 400m title at London Aquatics Centre but missed the nomination time by two tenths of second.

However, his fine form has been rewarded with a spot on his second Olympic team.

Porthmadog’s Harris will make her Olympic debut in France after claiming Commonwealth, European and World medals since the last edition of the Games.

The Backstroke specialist qualified as part of the Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team at the London Aquatics Centre.

Away from the pool, Tokyo 2020 Olympian Pardoe makes his second successive Olympic marathon swimming team after an eye injury cut short his medal bid in the Far East.

The Wrexham-born swimmer returns to the greatest stage after claiming a bronze medal at the Doha World Championships.

Pardo will be joined by Swim Wales and Swansea Aquatics coach Hayley Baker, who will lead the marathon swimming team in Paris.

Wales’ Medi Harris Takes Silver Medal For GB

Swim Wales chief executive Fergus Feeney said: “We are so proud of each of the athletes selected for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“For Welsh swimmers to make up more than 15 per cent of the team is an incredible achievement for our small nation. It is testament to the collective efforts of the athletes, coaches, families across the entire aquatics community in Wales and beyond.

“I have no doubt that Medi, Matthew, Daniel, Kieran and Hector will inspire the nation and future generations of swimmers with their performances in Paris.

“Their talent, hard work and dedication has earned them their spot on Team GB, and I wish them the very best of luck in their final preparations for the Games.”

Swim Wales national performance director Ross Nicholas said: “Each of these athletes has come through a tough selection process and huge congratulations must go to them, their coaches and support networks.

“With four returning Olympians and one debutant, we’re excited to see what our athletes can achieve. Their selections are just rewards for their hard work and dedication to the sport.”

Team GB swimming squad in full

Freya Anderson, Kieran Bird, Alex Cohoon, Freya Colbert, Leah Crisp, Kathleen Dawson, Tom Dean, Angharad Evans, Luke Greenbank, James Guy, Medi Harris, Lucy Hope, Anna Hopkin, Daniel Jervis, Joe Litchfield, Max Litchfield, Keanna MacInnes, Jonathon Marshall, Jack McMillan, Oliver Morgan, Eva Okaro, Honey Osrin, Hector Pardoe, Adam Peaty, Ben Proud, Matt Richards, Toby Robinson, Duncan Scott, Katie Shanahan, Laura Stephens, Jacob Whittle, James Wilby, Abbie Wood.

 

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