Exclusive interview: Olympic gold medallist Kathleen Dawson reveals that 15 years ago she promised primary school classmates she'd achieve the amazing feat

As an eight-year-old kid at St Philip’s Primary School in Warrington, Kirkcaldy-born Kathleen Dawson promised that one day she would win an Olympic swimming medal.

Friday, 13th August 2021, 11:59 am
Kathleen Dawson with her triumphant Great Britain team-mates Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin (Pic by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Fifteen years later, Dawson was true to her word as she and team-mates Adam Peaty, James Guy and Anna Hopkin produced a sensational effort to land the recent mixed 4 x 100m Olympic crown in Tokyo in a world record time.

"I remember being in primary school and being asked what my aspirations were and I said that I wanted to get an Olympic medal,” Dawson said.

"I fulfilled it, it’s done!

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“It was almost like a dream, I couldn’t have imagined that after everything I’ve been through in the last few years that it would actually come to a head with a gold medal and a world record.

"I’m over the moon.

"Adam and James were just so confident going into it.

"Obviously they knew what they wanted and how they were going to do it. Because they are so experienced it was great being able to draw that confidence from them.

"It almost felt as if we had won it before we did. We knew coming into it that it was a great opportunity to get that gold medal and a world record anyway.

"The backstroke leg did go well for me personally. It wasn’t as fast a time as I would liked to have gone.

"Looking back at the race, I was swimming through the wash of all the guys that were next to me.

"So I think I did well, I managed to hold my ground against them."

Dawson, who has since lived in Stirling from the age of 18, said that going to a country with extremely strict coronavirus regulations for the duration of the Olympics was testing.

"It was almost kind of surreal being out there,” she said. “I knew that restrictions were getting lifted here but in Japan it was almost like taking a step backwards out there.

"Everything was so regimented, so restricted. We were doing PCR tests every day, it was like being back in lockdown almost.

"But since I’ve come back from Tokyo I’ve been swarmed with love and support. Everybody has just come round to give me their ‘well done’ messages, their congratulations and everything.”

In addition to Olympic glory, Dawson has also won four European Championship gold medals in what has been a great career in the pool.

Her next chance to shine at a major event comes at next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

"That will be a great opportunity to represent Scotland again,” Dawson added.

"I’m looking forward to that because it’s the only opportunity you really get to represent Scotland. It will be exciting.”