SWIMMER Matthew Johnson produced a series stunning displays at the European Junior Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, last week.
Despite being one of the youngest swimmers at the championships, Johnson took the competition by storm, winning two golds and a silver medal.
Johnson only turned 17 in April but despite swimming against older and stronger competitors, the former Spen Valley Sports College student won a silver medal in the 400 metre freestyle, breaking the British record in the process with an impressive personal best of 3.51.04.
Two days later, Johnson competed in the 200 metres butterfly and in a nailbiting race with Russia’s Andrey Tambovskiy, Johnson held his own down the final 50m to secure gold in a lifetime best time of 1.58.50, breaking his own British record for a 17-year-old in the process.
Johnson, who is from Dewsbury and now lives in Liversedge, wasn’t content with two medals and on the final day of competition, he secured a second gold when winning the 400m individual medley.
Representing the City of Sheffield, Johnson took complete control as he powered ahead of his rivals to touch in 4.17.26 — a time just shy of the European Junior record held by Hungary’s Gergo Kis.
Speaking of his success in the 200m butterfly, Johnson said: “Going into the final in lane seven is always difficult and you don’t usually think you have a chance of winning but I stayed positive and managed to come through at the end.
“I took it out from the beginning hoping that everyone else would tire and it happened.
“I looked around and saw 1.58.50 on the board which is another new PB so I’m really happy.”
The 17-year-old missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics by 0.07 seconds in March but he is already being tipped for big things, especially as he was the joint most successful male swimmer at last week’s European Juniors
Johnson added: “I’m really pleased I got a second gold. It was more than I had expected.
“I wouldn’t have minded going a bit faster but obviously it’s gold so I’m happy.
“I really wanted to get the European Junior record but hopefully next year I’ll get the chance to try again.”
Two weeks before his magnificent efforts in Antwerp, Johnson became the youngest ever winner of the Senior National titles when he again struck gold, this time at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
Johnson only used the 200 metres butterfly as a warm up event but produced a stunning display to win and then followed it up with a second gold medal in the 400m individual medley.
Johnson has another year at European Junior level but he is already plotting an assault on the World Championships next year.
Selection on which events Johnson may compete in will be taken in November and December.
He may have missed out by a fraction of qualifying for this year’s Olympics but British coaches are already planning big things for Johnson at the 2016 Games, which are due to be held in Rio.