Swimmer Andrew Mullen says his preparations for the Tokyo Paralympics will be watertight – in and out of the pool.
Andrew will head to Japan next month after winning a place in the ParalympicsGB team that is set to compete at Tokyo 2020, which has been rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew, who lives in Newton Mearns, in the Southside of Glasgow, has been supported on his journey towards Tokyo by family-owned housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel.
And now, as well as making sure he is in tip-top condition, the 24-year-old Scot has vowed to make sure that Covid-19 does not get in his way by doing everything he can to avoid the virus.
“I’ve been working towards Tokyo for years and I can’t let my efforts go to waste by being ordered to stay home because I get a positive Covid test,” Andrew said.
“I can’t gamble so I’ve got to be really sensible, limit exposure to other people and cut out unnecessary interaction because the Japanese authorities are quite rightly strict on the Covid front.
“I’ve got to err on the side of caution because it’s an invisible enemy – just look at what happened to Billy Gilmour who tested positive for Covid-19 after the England game
“And there’s Johanna Konta when she had to drop out ahead of Wimbledon because one of her team tested positive. I must be extra careful and not leave anything to risk but it’ll be worth it.
“There’s been talk that if someone has a positive Covid test that they simply won’t be able to travel even if they isolate afterwards and provide negative tests. That puts things into perspective.”
The former Mearns Castle High student added. “When it was confirmed I’d be going to Tokyo I felt a huge wave of relief.
“I’ve worked really hard for the last 18 months through all the challenges that Covid has sent our way to get on the team and I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from my friends and family, coaches, colleagues and Mactaggart & Mickel.
“I’ve been going to the gym and pool as normal with the same group of like-minded people who are linked by a collective sense of responsibility because we know what’s at stake and we don’t want to miss out.
“You’ve got to think of the bigger picture – it’s a decade worth of work for me and it would be foolish to jeopardise that, so making a few sacrifices is no big deal.
“My family have been sensible, and I’ve remained in contact with friends but only outside and in small groups because I don’t want to drive myself completely stir-crazy by not seeing anyone for months.
Tokyo 2020 will be Andrew’s third Paralympics, having made his debut at London 2012 when he was just 15 years old and then four years later, he headed to Rio and won a silver and two bronze medals.
“It might be my third Paralympics, but I honestly couldn’t be more excited about Tokyo,” Andrew said.
“I’ve got great memories of London and Rio, but it still feels like an honour to be representing Great Britain in the Paralympics.
“The atmosphere might not be as magical as it was in London or Rio because of Covid-19, but Tokyo won’t be any less special.
“No matter what restrictions are in place, the magnitude of the Paralympics is something that will never be lost on me.
“You’re competing on sport’s greatest stage and so I’ll definitely be right up for it. The Paralympics will be very exciting but I’m very process-driven, I stick to my race plans and aim to perform to the best of my ability.”
Andrew will compete in the 50-metre freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly events and possibly the 4x50 relay in the para swimming section of the Paralympic Games which take place from 24 August 24 to September 5.
The City of Glasgow Swim Team member continued: “I’ll be something of a senior statesman but if I can pass on anything useful based on my experiences to my team-mates who are competing at their first Paralympics then I will gladly do so.
“There’s 23 of us, a healthy mixture of young people and older swimmers, and I’m sure we’ll really gel as a team.”
It was following the postponement of Tokyo 2020 that Mactaggart & Mickel extended their backing for Andrew for a fourth year.
“Mactaggart & Mickel sponsorship has enabled me to dedicate my time towards preparing for the Paralympics,” Andrew said. “Their support has been a constant for me amid all the uncertainty created by Covid and is really appreciated.”
Mactaggart & Mickel Director Joanne Casey said: “We have a tradition of supporting people who live in communities like Newton Mearns where we are building new homes through our Building Communities Fund.
“We’re proud to support Andrew on his sporting journey and thrilled that he has won himself a place in the ParalympicsGB team through his pursuit of excellence and his focus, work ethic and dedication are nothing short of inspirational.
“Andrew is setting a brilliant example to people across Scotland not only for his sporting prowess but also with his determination not to let Covid get in the way of his Paralympics dreams and we are sure he will do Great Britain proud in Japan.”