Jamieson's stroke of genius delivers Britain a shock silver


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The Independent Online

After the expected came a British tale of the unexpected. Michael Jamieson only made it to the Olympic Games by two-hundredths of a second and while Britain yesterday prepared to greet two of its sure thing golds, the young man from Glasgow prepared to deliver a medal that nobody saw coming outside his training base in Bath.

It took a world record swim from Daniel Gyurta to deny Jamieson Britain's first gold medal in the pool last night but silver in the 200m breakstroke was warm consolation. Again, the margin between fairytale and a likely footnote in this country's Olympic history was slender.

The Hungarian won almost on the touch, just 0.15sec ahead of Jamieson, who himself finished inside the previous Olympic record time. It is the first medal for a British man in the pool since Steve Parry's bronze in Athens in 2004 and the best since Paul Palmer took silver in 1996.

There should be no doubting his achievement, not least as for once it made his home city take its eye off the ball. Jamieson is a lifelong Celtic fan and his race was shown on the big screen ahead of the club's Champions League qualifier against Helsinki. Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, sent a good luck message.

As a child it was football that took most of Jamieson's interest. Was that, he was asked afterwards, better than playing at Parkhead? He grinned. "Yes," he said, "absolutely. I got a message to say the final would be shown at Parkhead tonight before the game. That's quite special."

In his heat on Tuesday he swam a new personal best and set a new British record. Then yesterday morning he stormed through his semi-final to qualify fastest for the final and break the British record yet again.

The final began in a flood of noise. He looked relaxed – something not all British swimmers have managed during the Games – as he marched to his lane with a smile and a wave to the crowd. On one side of him was fellow Briton Andrew Willis, third quickest into the final, on the other Gyurta, the favourite.

It was a tight race. Jamieson turned into the final length in third, more than half a second behind Gyurta. As the metres ticked away he found one final surge of energy and closed ever closer. Another personal best, a British record of course, yet gold was just beyond him.