He describes his career in major championships as a mixture of highs and lows. The highs comprise an Olympic silver medal, two European Championship golds and world records in both long and short course. The deepest low was the 200m third place he took in the Commonwealth Games two years ago, only months after he had become the world record-holder.
But Gillingham is anxious to stress that he had been unwell at the time. 'I'd been suffering from a stomach infection and acute tonsillitis and inevitably that affected my fitness,' he explains. But he has grounds for optimism in Barcelona. At the Olympic trials in Sheffield two months ago he set a new European and Commonwealth record of 2min 11.62sec to become the second-fastest man in history.
Gillingham is confident he will handle the pressure with aplomb. 'I know exactly what to expect. I like big occasions. I think they bring out the best in me. There'll be 10,000 spectators watching us swim in Barcelona. The atmosphere will be special.'
If Gillingham completes a golden double, the many millions watching on television will witness something special too.
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