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Grant Robins aiming to win medals and make memories at Commonwealth Games

Grant Robins has said Team England will be preparing athletes to ‘race the race, not the experience’ ahead of the fast-approaching Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Robins is Team England’s swimming Team Leader for the event and spoke previously about how he is hoping for the ‘best games ever’.

With preparations well and truly underway ahead of the 29 July start date, Robins said he is looking forward to what he describes as a ‘once in a generation’ event.

“We’re going to help our athletes to race the race and not the experience and we will do that,” he said.

“Our swimmers are experienced, whether they are shining examples already on top of the podium at senior levels or whether they’re new talent coming through for Paris and the future and part of the pathway, that will help them secure that confidence going into Birmingham.

“They’ll know that their preparation has been good and that everything has been taken care of in terms of performance-driven to enable them to perform their best when it matters.”

When asked if the games being on English soil will bring added pressure for the athletes, he said: “There will be lots of people that the team will see in and around the Games but hopefully, that’s a supporting thing rather than a pressure thing.

“I would hope that people soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the occasion and get themselves into a position where they are prepared at their absolute best.”

Medals and memories

Robins spoke of how ‘there’s a number of ways of measuring success’, and hopes the Games will deliver a mix of medals and memories for the team.

We want to have the best Games ever, there’s a number of ways of measuring that – yes you can measure that in medals, gold medals and medals in total, personal best times…but also we want to create some memories.

“Those positive memories of being part of the team, part of the squad is also a measure of being the best Games ever.

“There are some targets but there are some unmeasurable things there that as long as swimmers enjoy the Games, stay safe and have a good time then we learn because this is a stepping stone to get to Paris or to get to LA.

“But collectively as a team, we’re supportive, we encourage one another and we’re able to support where we need to. Yes, I want some medals in the bag but we all do – we all want to perform our best.”

The Commonwealth Games is widely regarded as one of the most important and high-quality competitions in the international calendar, something which Robins doesn’t plan to underestimate.

He said: “The good thing about swimming and the Commonwealth Games is that the nations coming are world-class, whether they’re the home nations or the nations coming: Canada, Australia or South Africa, they are world-class swimming nations.

“It will be tough for us, we’re not underestimating what that competition is going to be like but we’ll be ready for that competition and looking forward to it and being really excited about racing some of the world’s best.”

‘Great head-to-head racing’

Although the teams are not yet confirmed, many of the athletes representing England will likely be going up against their Great Britain teammates.

Robins said he hopes that will add a level of ‘spice’ to the competition and that Team England ‘will rise to the challenge’.

He said: “I hope that we rise to the challenge. We race the race and not the occasion so as long as we prepare properly, we do our timelines properly then we’ll be tough to beat.

“That’s what competition is about, that’s why we do it and it’s what we enjoy and that’s what’s going to make us better in a couple of years time as well.

“There will be some great head-to-head racing opportunities. The relays that did so well in Tokyo, some of them will be broken up and the home nations will be filling their own teams.

“We want to be competitive in the relays and it generates such a different feel across the team. We’re an individual sport because there’s only space on the block for one pair of feet, but the opportunity to do some mixed relays and relays in general really adds benefit to us as a team but also to the individuals.

“There will be some close events, tight finishes and great head-to-heads but that’s what’s good about the Commonwealth Games – it really does open up opportunities for people that might not normally make a British team because the competition is so advanced when you’re taking into account Scotland and Wales.”