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Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games role an ‘incredible privilege’ for Grant

Grant Robins says leading Team England’s swimmers at a home Commonwealth Games is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’.

The Swim England Head of Talent for Swimming – who was Team Leader at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast – admits it will be an ‘incredible privilege’ to take on the role again at Birmingham 2022.

With 658 days until the Games begin on Thursday 28 July, 2022, all the Team England sport leads are today meeting virtually for the first time.

Although it is not a new experience for Grant, he is relishing the chance to use his knowledge as a Commonwealth Games athlete, coach and team leader to help England’s swimmers flourish in front of a home crowd.

He said: “As current Head of Talent for Swim England, the opportunity to be Team Leader at a home Games is an incredible privilege.

“Through our aligned pathway there will be swimmers and para-swimmers on our team in Birmingham that have come through the whole swimming journey and to see them thriving there will be amazing.

“The 2022 Games will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase England Swimming to a home crowd.”

Grant, who competed in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, and was part of the coaching team in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia, in 1998, wants England’s swimmers to have their best Games ever in a brand-new facility currently under construction in Sandwell.

And he believes the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic until next year could be a positive for his team.

Grant said: “With it being a home Games, a home crowd, a brand new pool, that is so exciting – the swimmers will relish it”

“We want to have the best Games ever, whether it’s gold medals, the number of  medals won or  season’s bests – we want to be successful and with the preparation planned, supported by Sport England, Commonwealth Games England and British Swimming  we will be.

“I’m looking forward to developing the culture with our staff and athletes that will enable us to do that and we’ll look to create the positive environment where success is inevitable.

“I’ll have a great team around me to make sure that we are all on song and have the best environment for our swimmers to perform. If we take care of the little things, the bigger things will take care of themselves.

“We’re taking the delay of the Olympic Games as a positive.

“It gives the younger members of the Olympic team and the performance squads another year to prepare.

Too good an opportunity

“Some of the more established swimmers might now be potentially thinking they could carry on for another two years to perform in Birmingham at a home games and those sort of situations don’t come around very often.”

Grant says he will aim to use everything he learned at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to help England deliver another batch of medals.

Team England swimmer’s claimed 24 podium places in Brisbane – nine gold, ten silver and five bronze – but Grant says this tally is beatable.

He said: “I loved it two years ago – it was the quickest and longest two weeks of my life.

“When you’re in the moment, it goes in slow motion – with hindsight it went really quick.

“The experience I had in Australia will enable me to be at the forefront of anything that comes out of the woodwork in Birmingham.

“I would certainly try and replicate the organisation, culture and atmosphere as we will need to be on top of our game – it’s not going to be an easy ride as the Australians and Canadians will be coming in force.

“There will be more eyes on us as you would expect but this is an opportunity to work with some pretty good people on home soil and that seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.”

Mark England, Team England Chef de Mission, said: “Team Leaders play a pivotal role in the preparation of athletes and support staff in the lead up to and during the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s really encouraging that we have such a high-quality group as we prepare our sports for the Games in Birmingham.

“I’m confident they’ll ensure every athlete has everything they need to showcase their talent and achieve performance success on the home stage for Team England in less than two years’ time.”