The father of British swimmer Luke Greenbank has said having an Olympian for a son “certainly wasn’t on the agenda” but that he is hugely proud of his achievement.
Christopher Greenbank said his son was “very grateful” to have the chance to compete at the Tokyo Games despite the coronavirus pandemic and “just wants to be the best he can be”.
The 23-year-old will take to the pool for the final of the men’s 200m backstroke just before 3am UK time on Friday morning.
“Obviously we’re hugely proud of what Luke’s doing, he’s an Olympian and he’s got into a big final so we’re massively proud of what he’s achieved,” Mr Greenbank told the PA news agency.
Mr Greenbank said the family had “had no expectations” when his son had first taken up the sport but he had continued to progress well.
“To be honest he started swimming at nine years old as part of Cockermouth swimming club – it’s a very small club in a small market town,” he said.
“We had no expectations of where he was going to go so we just took it year by year.
“He wasn’t necessarily a standout at that age but then just seemed to evolve and year by year he progressed, which was great.
“We weren’t thinking, ‘Oh, he’s going to be an Olympian by the time he’s 23’ – that certainly wasn’t on the agenda.
“But it’s hugely nice to see, and where he’s at.”
Mr Greenbank said that he would be watching the final on Friday morning with his wife Martha and two younger sons Adam and Sam at their home near Cockermouth in Cumbria.
“Last year was a disappointment but we understand that we couldn’t go and I think whereas we would have liked to have gone, we’re just very grateful that it’s happening and that Luke and all the other athletes have a chance of competing,” he said.
“That’s more important than anything else.
“Obviously it would have been nice to be there to support them but it is what it is, Covid has affected people in many different ways.
“I think Luke is grateful that it’s gone ahead and they have a chance to compete.
“At the end of the day this is the biggest competition he’s ever competed in and he just wants to do his best and be the very best he can be on the day.
“He’s been doing this for 15 years… so he just wants to get out there and do it and do what he can.”
Asked whether his son would be bringing home gold, Mr Greenbank replied: “He’ll hopefully be in the mix to get a medal but you can’t predict what the competition’s going to do so I don’t want to predict anything more than that.
“He’s done great to get in the final and he’ll give it his best shot.”