Molly Renshaw enjoyed an experience like no other at Rio 2016 but now has eyes solely for the podium after being selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Renshaw came agonisingly close to qualifying for London 2012 before finishing sixth in the 200m breaststroke on Olympic debut in 2016.
Five years on and patience has been a virtue for the Mansfield-born swimmer, once again smashing the national record at trials earlier this month.
That saw her named as one of Team GB’s 28 swimmers for the Games in Japan – 12 months on from wondering whether this Olympic challenge would even be possible.
“It’s exciting the thought of it all going ahead,” said Renshaw, who is looking to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
“This time last year we were all in a very different position, we were at home doing Zoom calls in our garages.
“So, to fast forward a year and actually be excited to be going towards the Games is a great feeling. In terms of expectations, I’d like to go there and improve on what I did in Rio.
“I think going there was a great experience and making the final was more than I could have dreamed of at the time, but this time I’d like to push for a podium place.”
Renshaw is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing her to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
Like all athletes, the 24-year-old’s sporting ambitions were put on ice when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
But having a chance to step back from the pool has been an unexpected blessing.
“Because I’ve been in the sport so long – I made my first senior team in 2011 – I’ve never really had an extended break,” she added.
“As a mental refresh, I think it really worked in my favour. It’s not been completely easy and there have been struggles but I just try to take the positives from it and keep going.”
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