MICHAEL Jamieson kept believing until the end but after missing out on a place in the Olympic team Britain’s best performer at London 2012 was left contemplating retirement.
Jamieson won silver in the 200m breaststroke four years ago – only Rebecca Adlington’s double bronze the other medals won by Great Britain’s swimmers in the pool – but he has struggled to back that up in the four years since.
As the face of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years ago he was upstaged by fellow Scot Ross Murdoch in his favourite event, having to settle for silver, and admitted afterwards that he never expected to endure such a tough four years.
Last night he was never really in the race, won by long-time rival Andrew Willis, finishing fifth in 2:10.55. That was nearly three seconds off the time he managed in London, and the latest sign that the 27-year-old will struggle to regain the form that put him amongst the world’s elite.
And while he did not confirm that he would be calling time on his career, Jamieson admitted that it would be tough to come back from missing out on the plane to Rio. “I wasn’t even in it. I think when time passes that will be almost easier to accept. The last couple of years have been horrible. It will be hard to come back because the Olympics is the big one.
“I’ve always thought the last couple of years I would get back to my best. I don’t know if it’s there anymore. It’s a long time to be trying to convince yourself that everything is alright. That could be it I think.
“Right now it’s hard to process but if you’d told me four years ago that I wouldn’t have been in the frame for worlds last year and wouldn’t have made the Olympic team I wouldn’t have believed you.
“I just haven’t been able to pull myself out of it. I’m so far off my best it’s hard to get my head around it. If I’d gone 2:08 and just missed the team then maybe things would be a bit clearer but I am so far off my best and it is two full years that I have been quite a long way off my best. The honest answer is that I don’t know if my body is capable of swimming the times it used to. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m just gutted it wasn’t there.”
Jamieson’s disappointment was in stark contrast to Livingston’s Craig Benson, who once again peaked in Olympic year and gave himself a shot of making the British team after finishing second in 2:09.07.
Four years ago Benson shocked everyone by making the team in the 100m breaststroke, and this time it was in the longer event that he shone, proving a number of doubters, including the man himself, wrong. He said: “A lot of people have written me off but that swim has kind of made people think that I am someone to contend with. I’ve not made a senior British team since the London Olympic Games and I have kind of been out of the limelight a bit but I’ve been working really hard in the background.
“It has been such a difficult two or three years, especially in the Commonwealth Games season, after the trials I was well off my best times.
“It was quite disheartening really and I got to the point that I thought about stopping the sport. But I pushed through and kept working hard and I’m really pleased.”
Benson’s joy meant disappointment for Murdoch, who touched home in third, just nine hundredths back, although he will likely travel to Rio in the 100m. And while he was clearly disappointed, the 22-year-old was quick to pay tribute to Jamieson and his influence on Scottish swimming.
He said: “I’ve been saying since I made my debut in 2013, Michael Jamieson is one of my heroes. He’s the one that proved to me that Scottish people can get medals at the Olympic Games. I watched him in London and that’s what made me want to go out and make this my profession.”
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