'Gunning' for Olympics


'Gunning' for Olympics

UK-based Jamaican swimmer eyes qualifying times for Tokyo, after record-breaking season opener

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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Jamaica's Michael Gunning opened the 2019-2020 season in superb fashion, setting a new national record in the 200-metre butterfly at the Manchester International Swim Meet in England on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who competes for Stockport Metro, signalled his intent with a tidy 1:59.98-clocking at the short course meet, as he hunts qualification to next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Gunning went into the final as the number seven-ranked athlete, after clocking a time of 2:05.27 minutes during the qualifying round. However, he threw down an even more impressive exhibition in the final to win bronze and, by extension, became the first Jamaican to break the two-minute barrier in the event. He bettered his previous national mark of 2:00.07 minutes set in 2017.

Richard Nagy of Sheffield City finished tops in 1:58.67 minutes ahead of Tom Beely (1:58.84) of Plymouth Leander. Gunning was delighted with the aggressive performance that propelled him to the new national standard. “I am really happy to set that Jamaican record in the 200- metre butterfly,” the Britishbased swimmer declared.

“Now that it is the Olympic cycle, everyone wants to swim fast and everyone is going for the fast times. So, to get a bronze medal at the Manchester International, I am really pleased with that as I did not expect it, but my coach Sean Kelly has been pushing me in training and this meet was just to swim through and see what times I could post when I am in hard training,” he added.

Gunning, who is also the national record holder in 200- metre freestyle with 1:48.28 minutes, later placed 16th in that event in 1:53.10 minutes. With those performances offering a good indication, Gunning is now excited about the prospects for the remainder of the season, which he hopes will culminate with an Olympic showing.

“I am excited for things to come,” Gunning said with an air of confidence.

He continued: “I am currently training out here in the United Kingdom, and that is going very well. I am in the water 10 times a week and each session is about two and a half hours, so I am covering a lot of metres in a week. I am averaging 75 to 80,000 metres a week and I also have three gym sessions as well.

“So training is going well and I am really training very hard. The result came as a surprise because I am not rested or tapered, and that result came after a week of 80,000 metres. So, things are looking good for the Olympic cycle and hopefully I can hit those times to qualify for Tokyo.”

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