Alfreton teenager Jacob Whittle shows great promise in first Olympic Games

Alfreton’s Jacob Whittle can reflect on a positive first Olympic Games after his competitive action in Tokyo came to an end.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 11:05 am
Jacob Whittle after winning his 100m freestyle heat in Tokyo. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The 16-year-old was the youngest member of Team GB’s swimming squad, taking part in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay and the individual men’s 100m freestyle.

In the relay heats on Sunday, Whittle put in a storming anchor leg to help his team to fifth place but it wasn’t enough for them to progress.

However, Tuesday saw Whittle swim 48.44 to win his heat in the 100m free and qualify for the semi-finals.

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Speaking after his heat, Whittle said: “It was a good race, slightly slower than I expected but I’m really happy with it. It was a great experience.

“Obviously the individual race is completely different to the relay we had the other day and the pressure’s all on you. I really enjoyed it and gained some valuable experience.

“It was great. It’s nice to do it by yourself and see if you can deal with the pressure on your own and I really enjoyed it and we’ll see what happens really.

“It’s just great experience for the future in three years’ time and to keep moving forward. It’s been absolutely brilliant.”

In the semi-final, Whittle proceeded to break a 13-year English record. previously held by Simon Burnett, in finishing sixth in a time of 48.11. Although it wasn’t quite enough to secure a place in the final, he drew great praise from BBC commentator Steve Parry.

He said: “How exciting to step up as a 16-year-old and do a personal best in the semi-final of the blue riband event for men.

“The kid has got a bright future in front of him and he will definitely grow from this experience.

“Simon Burnett was a fantastic swimmer and it’s great that record has now moved on to him.”

Whittle will now return to the UK ahead of a busy schedule of swimming planned over the next year, and hoping to remain in the frame for the Paris Olympics in 2024.