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Team GB Paralympic swimmers have made their Melksham-based swim coach a very proud man, as his gold standard athletes smashed records and helped Britain secure second place at Tokyo 2020 medal table.
Steve Fifash, a former Blue Pool instructor, is part of the home coaching and support team for the Paralympic swimmers who went to Tokyo last month. The GB swimmers came home with 26 medals – 8 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze.
Speaking to Melksham Independent News, Steve detailed how successful his athletes were, “There were standout performances throughout the 10 days of swimming. Reece Dunn came home as Paralympics GB’s most decorated athlete from any sport, with five medals – including three golds and a couple of world records to his name; Maisie Summers-Newton became a double Paralympic champion, and 17-year-old Ellie Challis was the team’s youngest member and medallist. There were also title defences for Bethany Firth and Hannah Russell.
“The blend of youth and experience on the team was really promising. In total, 14 of the 25 athletes selected for Tokyo 2020 were making their Paralympic debuts, so it shows there could be so much more to come in Paris in three years.”
Steve went on to talk about the challenges of training for the games during a pandemic, “It was incredible to see the team performing so well out in Tokyo, especially given the challenging circumstances of the last 18 months and the unique nature of these Paralympic Games, without the support of family, friends and fans in the stands.
“As well as the swimmers themselves delivering on the biggest stage, the challenging nature of this Games also emphasised the important role played by the coaches and support staff, helping get the athletes to the position to put in those swims. It is a privilege to work with them as part of British Para-Swimming, and there is a real sense of excitement for what could lie ahead for the whole team.”
Steve is an experienced para-swimming coach and coaches regularly at a national level. This was the fifth Paralympic Games he has been a part of, and in 2016 he also took a team of swimmers to Florida for the Invictus Games, where they won 46 medals and 19 out of 29 events.
In total, GB claimed 124 podium places at the 2020 Tokyo games consisting of 41 gold, 38 silver and 45 bronze.