Watch: Incredible reaction of Team GB swimmer's family to gold medal shows what Olympic victory means
Their faces etched with excitement as huge cheers erupted from the garden, they weren't scenes you'd expect in the market town of Maidenhead at 3am on a Tuesday.
But joyous footage from swimmer Tom Dean's family home showed how his nearest and dearest celebrated wildly as the 21-year-old stormed to victory to claim Team GB's fourth Olympic gold medal of the Tokyo Games.
Dean's mother Jacquie Hughes told her son “my heart is bursting” following his incredible victory.
Dean finished in a time of one minute and 44.22 seconds, just ahead of his friend and teammate Duncan Scott, who collected silver at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
His mum told the BBC’s Today programme of the moment she watched her son grab the gold: “I looked around at my other children and people in my garden in the early hours this morning, and they were all crying. I was just in shock."
The family had gathered at Hughes' Berkshire home to watch the 3am race.
“We were all jumping around like whirling dervishes," she said.
“Tom says he feels like he’s in a dream and I think I’m with him in the same dream.”
Dean won the gold after months of worry about even making it to the Games, having contracted coronavirus for a second time at the start of the year, which forced him to spend seven weeks out of training.
After testing positive again in January, the 21-year-old said his symptoms were much more severe, telling the BBC he could not walk up the stairs “without coughing and wheezing”.
He said: “When I was sitting in my flat in isolation, Olympic gold seemed like a million miles off. But here we are.”
Hughes later told Sky News that her son’s life has “changed forever” after he became the first British man to win an Olympic freestyle title in 113 years.
She said: “Before the race he was very quiet, contained and internal and very methodical, he knew what he had to do, he just wanted to get on with it.
“After the race he said: ‘Mum I just feel like I’m in a dream I knew I could win it but none of it’s sunk in.'”
Hughes added: “I just said to him, ‘Tom my heart is bursting’ and it’s not just because you have won a gold medal it’s the way he conducts himself, the way he picks himself up after disappointment.
“He’s had two bouts of COVID this year, it’s really knocked his plan off. I’m just so proud of the way he approaches it.”
Footage on the Team GB Twitter account showed Dean’s family celebrating in Maidenhead as they watched the event live.
A large crowd could be heard cheering him on before jubilant friends and family embraced each other.
Both Dean and Scott are expected to compete in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay heats on Tuesday.
The victory marks Team GB’s fourth gold medal of this year’s Games, following a spate of victories on Monday.
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