Swimming legend tips Litchfield to turn near misses into medals

Max Litchfield. Picture Scott Merrylees
Max Litchfield. Picture Scott Merrylees

MAX Litchfield may still be without an individual medal at a major swimming championships but this will not stay the case for long, according to British legend Mark Foster.

Litchfield has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and, at just 22 years of age, the Badsworth swimming all-rounder has time on his side.

He came within a whisker of an Olympic medal at Rio 2016, finishing fourth in the 400m individual medley.

And despite setting new British records in both 200m and 400m individual medley events at the World Championships earlier this year, this was only good enough for fourth in both.

He does have a world short course medal to his name – a silver in the 400m medley from Canada last year – and Foster is confident the ability and attitude of Litchfield will guarantee him individual podium finishes in the years ahead.

“Medals will come – he’s made some great improvements this year,” said Foster, who has six world and 11 European titles to his name.

“It was really interesting and a delight watching him in Budapest. I believe he should have been in the 4x200m relay.

“He’s going to be a great asset for that. He’s be one of the strongest members of that team.

“He’s improving a lot, I know he’s had a lot of fourths, but they will turn into thirds, seconds and he could win some championships, he’s that good. He’s got some really, really good skills. He’s got great strokes, I’m really, really pleased to see what he looks like technically.”

Foster was speaking at Stoke Park where he was taking part in a tennisathon as part of SportsAid Week along with fellow Olympian, heptathlete Denise Lewis.

Despite Litchfield chalking up a few narrow podium misses in recent times, Foster is adamant this will only fire up his compatriot even more, rather than the disappointment weighing on his mind.

“It inspires you more than anything, because fourth is the worst place,” added Foster.

“I had lots of fourths, I had thirds, seconds and wins too. You might as well finish eighth, as you don’t get anything for eighth and you don’t get anything for fourth.

“I know it sounds stupid, but you want to win, and if you finish third you still have something to show for it. I know he’ll want to be on the podium and to hear the national anthem.”

SportsAid Week took place between September 25 and October 1. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk/mymiles for more information on the #MyMiles challenge.