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'Commonwealth Games real opportunity to build on the success of Tokyo'

Grant Robins has said the upcoming Commonwealth Games provides a ‘real opportunity to build on the success of Tokyo’.

Robins is leading the charge for England’s swimmers and para-swimmers in his role as Team England’s swimming Team Leader.

He has previously spoken of how he is hoping for ‘the best Games ever’ and shared how he is looking to ‘win medals and make memories’ in Birmingham.

“Tokyo was brilliant,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to really get involved [in Birmingham] and build on the success of Tokyo.

“But there are some events that we’re not so good at – in the distance events we want some more people coming through.

“Our relays were so good in Tokyo but to actually build four of something has to be better for the depth of talent in the country rather than just the single medal winners.

“We’ve got an extra couple of relays this year in terms of the mixed relays which is a fantastic opportunity; standard relays, relays in the para-events, so there really are some opportunities for people to get involved and build for the future.”

‘So many opportunities’

Robins explained how the qualifying times are designed to be ‘aspirational’ so as to encourage more athletes to try and achieve them.

He said: “The qualifying times are aspirational and if we can fill some of the event gaps that we feel we’ve got, if that helps us find some new people that want to swim and swim well at international level, then this is the year to do that.

“There are so many opportunities for people to get back involved with swimming whether that’s the European Juniors, World Juniors, European Championships, Europen Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), World Para Championships.

“There are so many opportunities for people to race this year, it’s going to be fantastic.”

‘They fear nobody’

Many of the athletes who will be selected to represent England will be no strangers to racing each other head-to-head.

Speaking on this, Robins commented how both England and Great Britain have ‘great examples’ of friendly rivalries which are bound to deliver some exciting racing when the time comes.

“They’re raw, they fear nobody, they fear nothing – it’s just sheer talent. Watching them swim is so great to see.

“We have great examples of that in Great Britain and in England so that will hold us in good stead going forward, whether it’s Birmingham or the next Commonwealth Games in 2026.”

‘Love their sport for as long as possible’

Robins also highlighted how he feels it’s his ‘job’ to help athletes love their sport ‘for as long as possible’, irrespective of what level they may reach within it.

He said: “It’s our job to bring the athletes into that programme, to love the sport for as long as possible which includes the Commonwealth Games, it includes the Olympics and Paralympics and so on.

“Our qualifying times have been listed from an aspirational point of view. These are times that people can look at and really think ‘if I get my head down, if I do some good work and race well – if I do all the bits and pieces that make a difference, I can make that team, I can make that time’.

“Hopefully, there will be some new kids on the block come April that are really looking forward to sticking with the sport for another quadrennial and can really make a difference to our senior performance levels.”