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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Gibson can climb higher
By David Wilkie
Great Britain's last swimming world champion in 1975

James Gibson's gold medal at the World Championships is great news for British swimming and even greater news for Gibson himself.

James Gibson
Gibson won Britain's first individual world title since 1975
To win a World title is even more difficult than winning at the Olympic Games.

The selection process is tougher, so once the swimmers get there, they are going to compete harder and faster.

But it is at the Olympics where swimmers can really make a name for themselves.

The Worlds and the Commonwealth Games are important and England and Scotland did well in Manchester last year - but I doubt anyone can remember who the medallists were.

If you do not achieve at the Olympics, you will never have a high profile, because everyone loves an Olympic champion.

Swimming is now a Cinderella sport.

There are thousands of kids who participate, but in terms of coverage it is extremely low profile.

When I was swimming, it was on television every week - now you hardly ever see it.

The sport itself in Britain has to take some of the blame.

David Wilkie
Wilkie followed his world title in 1975 with 1976 Olympic gold
We have not had any success recently and that means there are no heroes for young people to emulate and no characters for the general public to latch on to.

We now have a tough coach in Bill Sweetenham, and hopefully he can make the difference.

His work seems to be already paying dividends with three medals at the World Championships - but the hard work for Gibson is far from over.

The 50m breaststroke is not an Olympic event so he will now have to turn his attentions to training for the 100m if he wants success in Athens.

David Wilkie
"The Worlds are even tougher than the Olympics"

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