After swimmer Ollie Hynd MBE’s success at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, he is working towards making the Great Britain team heading to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics this summer. Ollie has been selected for the British Para-Swimming World Class Programme for another year and is continuing his role as ambassador for Hogan Lovells, who are an official sponsor of ParalympicsGB. In May, Ollie will be competing at the World Para Swimming European Championships after his selection for Team GB. Chatting with us, Ollie tells us about being an ambassador for Hogan Lovells, his training so far this year and the upcoming European Championships.
We understand you are a Paralympic ambassador for Hogan Lovells, what does this involve?
I have been lucky enough to be Hogan Lovells’ Paralympic ambassador since 2015. They are an official sponsor of ParalympicsGB and I have been the athlete facing the engagement with HL. They have been a great supporter of my career, and I’ve been so grateful of their support. Together we have been able to spread the Paralympic movement throughout Hogan Lovells and beyond. We have worked brilliantly together over the last five years, in part because they’re just as passionate about Para sport as me!
How was the Legally Ballroom evening you judged with Shirley Ballas and Jermaine Berchie for Hogan Lovells?
It was a fantastic evening! I must admit, I am not a big dancing fan, but I was helped by two great judges!
What do you enjoy about holding Q&As, like the one you did at Birmingham Children’s Hospital?
I was so inspired by my recent visit to Birmingham Children’s Hospital! Some of the children have had a really rough time recently, so to be able to go in there and tell them my story, show them my medals and hopefully inspire them to not give up was really great. I met some fantastic people that day, and it’s one I’m sure I won’t ever forget. I get just as inspired meeting these great, strong people.
Can you tell us about London’s first para-swimming development camp in Stanmore you were involved with recently?
I was so honoured to be invited to the Para Swimming development camp in London to talk to all the aspiring athletes! I’ve been so fortunate to get a lot out of the sport of swimming, so to be able to go along and hopefully inspire the next generation of athletes is awesome! I love passing on any advice and help I can through telling my story, so it was an awesome day! I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of those younger swimmers coming through soon and making it to International competition!
What can you say about being part of Team Speedo?
Being part of Team Speedo is awesome! As a younger swimmer, I always would look up to all the Team Speedo athletes, so to be able to call myself one of those is a pretty cool feeling to be honest! I always have so much fun whenever we do anything with Speedo and, of course, it’s great that the company is so well-represented with my fellow Para swimmers!
Is there anything you would say to other swimmers with muscular dystrophy wanting to take the sport up professionally?
I would say always believe in yourself! There will be some really tough days along the way but if you really, really want it, you can push through those and be a great success and achieve those goals you set out! And, of course, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it and it wouldn’t be any fun, so enjoy the ride! I would also say surround yourself with some really great people that can help you push through anything. I would give that piece of advice for anyone actually!
How does it feel being back in the pool after the reclassification in 2018?
I love swimming, so regardless of what Class I’m in or whether it is just recreationally, I’ll always be happy! I’m fortunate to be able to swim professionally!
Can you tell us about the British Para-Swimming World Class Programme that you’ve once again been selected for?
I’m really happy to be part of the programme again this year! (I think it’s my ninth straight year?) I’ve always been so proud to represent my country so whenever you get to wear the Great British kit, it’s an honour! British Swimming has shown a lot of faith in me over the last eighteen months during a difficult period, so I’d like to continue to give back to the programme by inspiring and mentoring some of the younger swimmers!
You’ve been announced as part of the British team at the 2020 World Para Swimming European Championships, what are you looking forward to for competing at this event?
Yes, I’m proud to be going to another European Champs in May! Some great memories at that pool from 2016, winning three golds and five medals, so hopefully I’ll be able to make some more of those this time around! My main event focuses this time will be mostly on the 400 Freestyle, as most of this season will be, but maybe I’ll swim a couple more events also!
How has your training been going so far this year?
Training this year has been really great! One element of my training that has really helped over the years has been my consistency and focus, which was probably missing for the majority of the last season, but since the summer break, that has definitely been pushed back to a higher level. So, I’m excited to see where that can take me coming into a big season. My mentality now is I’m swimming for me, and that’s the most important thing. Let’s see where that takes me!
You are targeting Tokyo 2020, how are you preparing for the lead-up?
I’m preparing for Tokyo like I have all of my other events, by going in every day and giving it my all! Like I said, the mentality is this is for me and I have nothing to lose, so when you are in that mindset you are dangerous in the pool. I’ve always been a tough competitor, so I’ll carry that through this year!
Do you know when you’ll hear if you’ve made the Paralympic team and how different do you think it will be to Rio 2016?
It will be after the trials which are being held in April. I think in a lot of ways it’ll be different. On a personal note, it would feel a little different from last time around, with my experiences of the last four years, but, of course, being in a completely different part of the world adds a different vibe to the games. I think it will be a really good one though and Tokyo will put on a great show!
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