It looked for a while that Michael Jamieson (pictured above) was going to become the next biggest star in swimming. A household name like former Breaststrokers Duncan Goodhew and before him David Wilkie, he looked set for global success – at last a British Michael Phelps that the public would be able to identify outside of a swimming pool. He even took part in a special edition of BBC Superstars after the Olympics where he finished a very credible second behind boxer Anthony Joshua.
Apart from Rebecca Adlington, he was our only other medal winner at the 2012 Olympics (silver in the 200m Breaststroke). But since then it’s fair to say he has struggled to find form – first of all at the Commonwealth Games where as a Glaswegian born and bred he really was the poster boy for the competition. And more recently at the British Championships where he finished sixth in 2:10.96 – well outside his PB of 2:07.43 and over 2.5 seconds behind the all conquering Adam Peaty (Peaty also won the 100m of course in the world record time of 57.92 seconds. You can see my thoughts here.)
I’ve met Michael on a couple of occasions and can honestly say he is one of the nicest sportsmen I’ve ever spoken to – intelligent and interesting, you really could imagine going for a beer with him. When I spoke to him last at a launch for the new Speedo LZR Racer range of swimming costumes which he is endorsing, he alluded to a change in his training regime after the Commonwealth Games and a temporary shift to Millfield School while the pool at Bath University where he usually trains is being refurbished.
But there was nothing to indicate any problems and he seemed confident of a place at this year’s World Champs in Kazan, Russia. “Training is going really well,” he told me at the breakfast launch, just a couple of months ago. “I’ve changed a few things this season. Ultimately I’m always going to be a 200m Breaststroker – that’s my physiological make up – but my areas to improve in that event are through my front end speed which means basically being able to swim faster over the first half of the race, but with the same level of efficiency.” However, he now won’t be competing in Kazan at all.
So what’s gone wrong? It’s difficult to tell. Still only 26 years old (he’s 27 in August) it’s not like he’s over the hill in terms of men’s swimming. But there’s no doubt he is currently struggling to match the former of his younger rivals, particularly England’s 20 year old Adam Peaty and fellow Scot Ross Murdoch who is still only 21. His reaction time was noticeably slower than Peaty’s in the 200m final (0.79 compared to 0.62) and at the half way point he was just over a second behind him.
But Murdoch, who beat Jamieson in the 2014 Commonwealth Games 200m Breaststroke (an event that was expected to be a certainty for Jamieson) is convinced that Jamieson will be back. “He’s been to the last two World Championships but it comes down to how you race on the day and sport is an unforgiving place,” Murdoch told the BBC. “Ultimately, he has the fire in him and he’ll be back in no time at all.” I really hope he’s right and he can lead the British team to swimming victory in Rio. Only time will tell.