Michael Jamieson: Edinburgh move to boost Rio Olympic bid

Michael Jamieson
Jamieson hopes moving to Edinburgh will help revive his swimming career in time for Rio 2016
Saturday Sportsday
Date: Saturday 3 October Time: 12:50 BST - watch live on BBC One & BBC Sport website

Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson believes moving to Edinburgh will revive his career and help him challenge for honours at Rio 2016.

Jamieson was British swimming's best performer at London 2012, in an otherwise disappointing Games for GB.

However this summer Britain's swimmers secured a record-breaking medal haul at the World Championships in Kazan, for which Jamieson had failed to qualify.

"After everything that's happened I just needed a fresh start," he said.

Glasgow-born Jamieson began his professional swimming career at the University of Edinburgh before a brief period in Paris and has been based in Bath for the last five years.

Jamieson on London Olympic silver
"Winning an Olympic medal was the realization of a life-long dream, it was absolutely brilliant! Looking back I wish I had taken more time to enjoy it and celebrate what I'd achieved - but I was straight back into training."

After injury struggles, a heart scare and finishing second to countryman Ross Murdoch at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, he was considering quitting the sport.

However Jamieson now believes that he can not only overhaul rivals Murdoch, Adam Peaty and Andrew Willis to secure a place in the Team GB squad, but also challenge for a medal come the Rio Olympics.

Where did it go wrong?

Michael Jamieson
Jamieson's downturn in form has resulted in his losing his UK Sport funding

Fresh from his success at London 2012, Jamieson was named as one of Scotland's ambassadors for Glasgow 2014.

It was a "huge honour" for the swimmer, but it also brought a new level of expectation with Jamieson lined up to give the hosts spectacular golden start to the Games on the opening night.

"People were asking how I was going to handle the pressure and I just became a little over-focused, analysing every little thing every day," he told BBC Sport.

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Gyurta

Determined live up to his billing, he trained hard - too hard - and it resulted in an irregular heartbeat.

"It was a one-off freak event put down to the fact I was pushing myself so much - it's not normal to be able to do that but it shows how much I wanted it," he said.

A defibrillator later, he was back on track, but less than three months before the Games, a back spasm disrupted his preparations further.

"I was with all the British team, people I knew I was going to be racing for major titles in a few months' time and they were watching me hobble down the poolside unable to train or stand up straight which was horrible," he said.

Jamieson found the aftermath of his 200m defeat by Murdoch difficult to stomach and it was four agonising months before he returned to swimming.

Jamieson on his post-Commonwealths struggles
"I really struggled to get over it as I've was thinking 'I've pushed myself to the point of a problem with my heart, there isn't much more to give' and that was really so hard."

The British trials for the 2015 World Championships came too soon in his comeback and the man who had been GB's leading light 18 months earlier found himself out of the team.

"On reflection I shouldn't have gone to the trials for the Worlds because if I'd looked at the training I'd done, it just wasn't enough," said Jamieson.

Michael Jamieson
Jamieson has won silver medals at Olympic, World short-course and Commonwealth Games events.

Texas trip brought about Edinburgh switch

Kazan was not the only venue for high-profile swimming this summer with the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, serving out his USA team ban by competing at the US Nationals in San Antonio, Texas.

Jamieson too was out in America, but unlike Phelps his own performances would not make headlines.

"I was there to send out a message really, but that didn't end up happening and that's when I knew I needed a change," he said.

"Chris Jones was leading the Scottish team out there, we got chatting and he felt he could help me out."

Why Edinburgh move makes sense
Jamieson already owns a property in the city, which he will move into by the end of the year
He lost his UK Sport athlete funding as a result of failing to qualify for the Kazan Worlds, but having made the move will be given support and guidance by both the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Swimming
Geographically, Edinburgh is less than 50 miles from his family home in Glasgow and where his beloved Celtic FC play

Jones - the University of Edinburgh's head coach - and his assistant Mathew Trodden have known Jamieson for several years and were a key factor in the move.

"It's been a really tough decision to leave Bath as I have such a great relationship with all of the coaches and the athletes, but this is a performance based decision with Rio in mind," he said.

Can Jamieson really return to the top again?

Michael Jamieson
Jamieson dreams of winning another Olympic medal in Rio

Victories, medals and records have always motivated Jamieson and whilst they are still a key focus, so is happiness.

"For a while I wasn't sure if I was going to get back in and think I just lost perspective and I forgot why I loved doing it," he said.

BBC pundit Steve Parry on Michael Jamieson
"He was the poster boy for Commonwealths and was beaten by a team-mate which has got to be incredibly tough to come back from," said Parry. "Taking time out was difficult in the short-term, but in the long-term it could help extend his career. He's a fantastic athlete, a class-act and although it won't be easy he can be in Rio and I believe we could have two Britons up there on the podium."

He now has that passion again and is still fuelled by a desire to not only reclaim his status as one of the best breaststroke swimmers in the world, but also better the silver he won at London 2012.

"I'm under no illusions as to how difficult that is and I have a long way to come back, but I know I'm capable of still being a world-class athlete," said Jamieson.

"I'm focused on a medal in Rio and come the Olympics I'd love it if Ross and myself were both on the podium, that would be incredible, but I want to be in front of him this time."

Jamieson will miss this month's international fixture in Manchester but hopes to return to competitive swimming as part of the European team who will take on the USA for the Duel in the Pool title in December.

Watch Michael Jamieson on Saturday Sportsday on 3 October at 12:50 BST on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

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