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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 00:50 GMT
Swim king Gibson honoured
Date of birth: 6 February 1980
Place of birth: Witham, Essex
Breastroke titles: 2003 World Championships: gold 50m, bronze 100m
2001 European Championships: silver 100m, silver 4x100m medley relay

James Gibson may not be a household name, but British swimming will take pride in his MBE in the New Year Honours List.

Gibson became Great Britain's first gold medallist at a major games since David Wilkie in 1975 when he stormed to 50m success at the World Championships in Barcelona earlier this year.

With Commonwealth and European titles also to his credit, the 23-year-old now has his sights trained on the Olympic 100m in Athens next year.

Fittingly, with the honours list dominated by the England rugby team, Gibson's approach to his preparation and training is similar to that of the World Cup winners.

But the Loughbrough University student is certainly not the shy, retiring type. Choosing three words to describe himself, he settled on "confidence, positive and pecs."

Taking Gibson at face value would be wrong, however.

His confidence comes from proven ability and professional attitude.

To get a real look into his mind, you need look no further than his one ambition which he lists, quite simply, as "winning".

Delve further and the people he would most like to meet are Churchill and Ayrton Senna. Even Sir Clive would approve.

Key to Gibson's progress has been the training plan implemented by Great Britain swimming supremo Bill Sweetenham.

Like Sir Clive Woodward, the uncompromising Aussie shares an unflappable desire for his team to be number one.

As with Woodward, the language of success has infiltrated the mindset of his charges.

Gibson might list his favourite hobby as sleeping, but his professional talk is peppered with positive adjectives, imagery and goals.

James Gibson
Gibson's laid-back appearance is deceptive

There is talk of being "relentless" and "uncompromising" when attacking the 100m in Athens next year.

Discussing his world 50m breastroke victory in Barcelona earlier this year, Gibson revealed how he wouldn't allow any thought of failure to enter his head.

"They had to come out to beat me today but I made sure that in my head they wouldn't," he said.

Even Jonny Wilkinson OBE would be proud.

He trains hard, too. Typical race preparation might involve 7000m sessions mixed with shorter, 4x100m sets.

Little wonder that it is with a wry smile that head coach Ian Turner describes Gibson's race preparation as "a little intense".

For now, Gibson may have to hover in the wings of English rugby's triumph, but Olympic success makes swimmers household names.

And there is no rugby in Athens next summer.

Gibson strikes Euro gold
12 Dec 03  |  Other Sport
Gibson sets new record
15 Aug 03  |  Other Sport
Gibson claims historic gold
23 Jul 03  |  Sport Homepage

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