FORMER double Commonwealth champion Chris Cook thinks that the budding rivalry in the British breaststroke ranks could well make all the difference at London 2012 for Edinburgh University’s Michael Jamieson.
Jamieson sealed his spot in the 200m at the Games this summer during the Olympic Trials back in March at the Olympic Aquatics Centre.
But the Commonwealth silver medallist had to settle for the second step on the podium on the day after being beaten out by Andrew Willis.
Men’s breaststroke in Britain has always had some great personalities and rivalries from Duncan Goodhew and David Wilkie in the 1970s to Adrian Moorhouse and Nick Gillingham in the late ’80s and Cook believes that Jamieson and Willis have the potential to follow in their footsteps.
“Britain have got a good pedigree in the breaststroke ranks. There have always been good rivalries for people to watch,” said Cook, who won double gold in Melbourne in 2006. “That’s still the same now, with Michael and Andrew both at the top of their games, pushing each other on to greater heights. There’s a great pedigree in the discipline. It’s so important to have someone within your own team that is driving you on, because that means that when you get to the Olympics or a World Championships there are no surprises.
“You don’t want to just cruise through your own trials without ever testing yourself and then get to the Olympics and it’s a huge step up. You want to be constantly pushing yourself.
“And the differences between the two make it an even more intriguing rivalry. Michael has a beautiful stroke, whereas Andrew’s just a beast – such a strong and powerful man.
“They’re different swimmers and I can’t wait to see them match up head-to-head, and I mean that in terms of the Olympics, but also for many years to come.”
But while Willis might have emerged victorious in the trials, Cook is adamant that it could easily be Jamieson who has the last laugh come the Games this summer.
“Andrew is the one who produced in the Trials, so at the moment he is probably the top dog, feeling pretty good about himself,” he added. But there’s much more to come from Michael. He will be really disappointed with the Trials, but that has just made him more hungry and he’s thrown himself into training.
“He’ll be thinking ‘I’m better than that’ and the truth is it’s much harder to be the frontrunner than the guy chasing behind.”
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