Rio star Ollie sets his sights on Tokyo 2020

Ollie Hynd with his gold medal from last week - picture by onEdition.
Ollie Hynd with his gold medal from last week - picture by onEdition.

As he began a well-earned break after his Rio success, Kirkby’s Paralympic swim star Ollie Hynd has already set his sights on defending his titles in Tokyo in 2020.

In what he described as his ‘best ever meeting’ in Brazil, the 21-year-old continued his dominance of the SM8 200m individual medley as he smashed his way to a new world record to retain his Paralympic title from London 2012.

Ollie Hynd  in the Rio pool - picture by onEdition

Ollie Hynd in the Rio pool - picture by onEdition

He also set a new world record on his way to Paralympic gold in the Men’s S8 400m freestyle, having won silver in London, as well as upgrading his London bronze to a silver in the men’s S8 100m backstroke.

“I am definitely going to take some time out of the water – I am not sure how long yet – just to recharge the batteries,” he said.

“But I will definitely say Tokyo is in the plan and also the Commonwealth Games in between that.

“I need a bit of a break now. Four years is a long time and if I make the most of it now I know it could be really important down the line.

Ollie Hynd MBE with his 400m Freestyle S8 gold medal  - Picture by onEdition

Ollie Hynd MBE with his 400m Freestyle S8 gold medal - Picture by onEdition

“I am just going to enjoy myself spending time with friends and family and reflect on everything that has gone on in the last month. That’s important as well.

“I will celebrate the success now and eventually get back in the pool and set myself some more goals I want to achieve over the next four years.”

Ollie certainly has ambitions beyond Tokyo.

“Four Paralympic Games was what I wanted to do and obviously Tokyo will be my third,” he said.

Ollie Hynd in Rio - picture by onEdition.

Ollie Hynd in Rio - picture by onEdition.

“So for me to reach that goal I’d have to go again for another four years. But we will see what happens.

“You set yourself a four year plan and then reassess it after that. But, as of now, I definitely feel like I can go to Tokyo. I am physically capable of that. Anything beyond Tokyo we’ll have to see.”

Hynd admitted his displays in Rio were better then he had dared to dream of.

“Particularly in the medley, the world record and the time were a bit of a surprise to be honest,” he admitted. “I didn’t think I was capable of going that fast.

“So to do it in Rio on the biggest stage and after breaking my 400m world record earlier in the competition, it exceeded my expectations.

“The biggest thing for us over the last four years was to feel like we’d moved on from London. That was quite big as I didn’t want to feel like I’d wasted four years and not really moved forward.

“Obviously the times reflected I had done and it’s great that the medals did as well. To upgrade the 400 into a gold and the backstroke into a silver was great.”

With financial cutbacks expected to the Paralympics and slow ticket sales, the build-up to the event was full of pessimism.

However, the Brazilian public eventually did it proud and the GB athletes responded with their best-ever showing.

“To be honest I think it was better than London on the whole,” said Ollie.

“My performances were much better and I am a much better athlete than I was in London.

“The whole experience was incredible and, considering all the negative press going into the Games, for it to completely blow that out the water was great.

“I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations with the crowd.

“I was never actually waiting for a bus and considering that was a worry with the cuts in transport, those services seemed to be better than London.

“The crowd and way they embraced Para-sport was incredible.

“It was a snowball effect - as the Games got going they just embraced it. Out in Brazil we were treated almost like celebrities.

“Someone told me that on the Saturday there were more people in the park then there were on the corresponding Saturday for the Olympics. In terms of numbers that is really impressive.

“The performances were great, the medals were great, but for me the one thing that stands out is the crowd.”

Ollie said the negative talk before the Paralympics had no effect on preparation.

“There was no talk about it within the team,” he said. “We just focused on what we were doing.

“For me personally, I had worked very hard for the last four years, so no matter what it was like out there I wanted to deliver the performance. Rio is what it’s been about for the past four years.

“London was a moment in time for the Paralympic movement that might never happen again.

“But I think Rio now has a similar spot in history, just with everything leading up to it and how it turned out.

“I think it was just as important in the Paralympic movement as London was.”

On a personal level Hynd dazzled watching TV audiences.

“Not just the medals and world records, but to do personal best times in all my races that I swam, I don’t think I have ever done that internationally at a competition,” he said.

“The likes of the 100m freestyle, in which I didn’t get a medal but got a best, I didn’t think I’d even be swimming that six months ago. So to swim a best time in the Rio final was great.

“On the whole it was probably the best meeting I have ever had in my career.”

Ollie appeared poolside pre-race with a dressing gown on with the hood up and headphones blaring out music, looking more like a confident prize fighter than a swimmer. And he believes that helped deliver the ‘knockout punch’ to his opponents in the pool.

“I think it does send a message out to your opponents,” he smiled.

“You spend 15 minutes in the call room before the race. So if you can get any kind of advantage in that time then I’ll take it.

“The uniform we came out was not only physiologically there for a purpose but also psychologically as well. It does make a difference.

“In that 15 minutes in the call room sometimes the race can be won and last in that time.

“Before the races generally I’ve been listening to Kanye West’s Life of Pablo album – I love Kanye. That was probably what I was listening to right before the race.”

After flying home it’s been a non-stop whirl of interviews, congratulations and catching-up as well as a homecoming event in Mansfield Market Place along with fellow Mansfield Nova Paralympic swimmer Charlotte Henshaw, who won 100m breaststroke SB6 bronze.

“It’s been especially weird as we’ve been living in a bubble for the past month, being in the village and being in the team environment,” he said.

“To come out of that and back into normal society is strange anyway, never mind all the craziness going on around you.

“But it’s been great, especially the event in Mansfield on Saturday, coming back to home support and people saying well done, it’s just been amazing and tops off the whole experience for me.

“I am incredibly proud to represent Mansfield and have that home support.”

Ollie paid tribute to his Nova coach Glenn Smith, saying: “The success he has had has been incredible and it’s testament to all his hard work.

“When you have a coach who is always willing to put himself out, you know it means just as much to him as it does to us.

“It’s showed over the last couple of Paralympic cycles with all the athletes he’d had.

“I definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything like I have without Glenn and I am very fortunate he is my coach.”

Coaching could be Ollie’s eventual career, but he admits he has no firm plans beyond competition yet.

“I am not entirely sure,” he said. “I will see what the next four years hold.

“With the age I am at now it’s probably a really important period of my life to shape my future.

“I would definitely like to give back to the sport, whether that’s a coaching role or not I am not sure. For now I will just focus on competition.”