European gold glory for Molly Renshaw
Selston's Molly Renshaw was crowned European 200m breaststroke champion in Budapest at the weekend and believes it was a vital stepping stone on the way to her glory chase at this summer's Tokyo Olympics.
Renshaw also believes her enforced break from the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic has benefited her in 'lighting a fire'.
After setting a new British record of 1:06.21 when coming third in the 100m breast, finishing fifth in the final, Renshaw blazed her way to gold in 2.21.34 in the 200m, swimming just off her season best of 2:20.89, which is also her lifetime best and the British Record in the event.
She swam that time back in April, at the British Swimming Trials, and with it, Renshaw currently stands as the number two performer in the world this year.
“I’m really satisfied because I didn’t expect to swim as fast as I did in the 200m final,” she said.
“After last night's swim I think I knew I had more in the tank, so I just tried to be brave going out and tried to push it as much as I can.
“I think it's a great stepping stone. There have not been many opportunities in the last year to come and compete against the best swimmers in the world. It's been a great experience having that pressure.”
She added: “I think the pandemic was always a bit of a blessing for myself.
“Being forced to spend that time out of the water lit a fire in me getting back into it last June.
“I kind of thought with how long I had left in the sport I had to give everything I had in the next year and a half.
“My training has been so much more consistent and I have been in so many meetings plus so many longer reps than I've ever had. It's been really tough but it's been paying off in my races.
“Having that mental break was good. I have been on senior teams for the past 10 years and I have never really had a prolonged break out of the water.
“It was forced upon me I guess, but it gave me a chance to completely switch off from the sport for a couple of months and when I got back in I was fully committed to get going.
“I think mentally it's really helped me and physically I am in the best shape I've ever been in as training has been so hard. I think all aspects are just coming together really nicely.”
Renshaw took control of the women’s 200 breaststroke final on the second 50, opening up an eight tenths of a second lead on the field to ultimately earn the victory by a similar margin.
Renshaw, 25, now has a full set of medals in this event at the European Championships, having won silver in 2014 and bronze in 2018.
GB ended up topping the medals table in Budapest.
The team won the final men’s and women’s 4x100 metres medley relays in championship record times to take their medal haul for the week in the pool to 26, with 11 golds - their best ever performance – and look set to send their strongest ever team to Tokyo.
“In general, the whole week, GB have just been smashing it,” said Renshaw.