Recently having a very successful Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Reece Dunn came away with five medals, with his first being Silver in the 100m Butterfly. Carrying on with the success, Reece won Gold in his main event – the 200m Freestyle, before going on to win Gold in the Mixed 4x100m Relay with his teammates Bethany Firth, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Jordan Catchpole, Gold in the 200m Individual Medley and, for his final race, he received the Bronze medal in the 100m Backstroke. During his Paralympic debut, Reece broke a number of World Records and, on his return from the Games, he attended the ParalympicsGB Homecoming Concert. Earlier in the year, Reece’s first competition back since the pandemic started was at the British Para-Swimming International Meet in Sheffield, where he won a Gold and two Silver medals. Reece answers our questions about his experience at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, his medal-winning races in his Paralympic debut and getting back to swimming since the pandemic.
How did you find the experience attending your first Paralympic Games in Tokyo and staying in the athlete’s village?
My first Games experience was very overwhelming, very exciting and, overall, probably the best experience I have had in my life so far.
What was it like standing on the podium for the first time at the Games collecting your Silver medal in the 100m Butterfly?
I was very proud to stand on the podium for the first time, and one that will stick with me forever.
How did it feel winning Gold in the 200m Freestyle which also saw you get the World Record?
Winning the 200m Freestyle was amazing, it is my main event and one that I poured my heart and soul into. Receiving the Gold on the podium, watching the British flag rise with the National Anthem playing is something I will never forget.
What did you enjoy most about competing in the Mixed 4x100m Relay Team with Bethany Firth, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Jordan Catchpole, which saw you win a Gold medal and get the World Record once again?
The thing I enjoyed must about the relay, was I got to share an opportunity of winning a medal with close friends and enjoy the company of racing with someone and not just racing against them.
You also got the World Record and Gold medal in the 200m Individual Medley, how did you stay focused going into the competition?
Staying focused during the Games is hard, as the swimming is ten days long; it’s important to have fun during your down time to enjoy the experience and take it all in.
Your final individual race was the 100m Backstroke, what was it like finishing the Games successfully winning Bronze?
Going into the 100m Backstroke, the goal was to just make the final and see what I could do for the final, but to come away with a medal in an event I’m not 100% into was quite the shock.
Do you have any stand-out memories from your time in Tokyo?
I think my stand-out memories that I will take out from the Games will be walking through the athlete village for the very first time, and standing on top of the podium watching the British flag rise on my 200m Freestyle win.
What do you feel you learnt competing at your debut Paralympics and how did you prepare for your time there?
What I learnt the most was that I could learn more about myself from losing than what I can when I’m winning. I learnt that I’m more resilient than I realise.
What was it like coming back to see your family and friends in the UK after winning all your medals?
Seeing my family at the airport when I arrived back in the UK was amazing, I walked through with my friends and we had all the families cheering and it was spectacular.
How was it attending the ParalympicsGB Homecoming Concert?
The Paralympics Homecoming was amazing, it was great seeing all the athletes and my friends for the first time since being back. We all had a lot of fun.
Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, you competed at the British Para-Swimming International Meet in Sheffield coming away with a Gold and two Silver medals, how was it getting back to competitions since the start of the pandemic?
Competing for the first time back since before March 2020 was hard but also felt like we were back to some sort of normality! It was a strange environment to be in again.
Have you been given any advice over the years that has stuck with you?
One piece of advice that I always remember is, many years ago, another swimmer saw me struggling and said to me, “You have to do it when you can’t do it”. At the time it made no sense but over time I began to interpret into a positive way.
Are there any other sports you enjoy and what do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a swimmer?
In my free time, I enjoy trying new sports. At the moment, I’m trying Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
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