Michael Jamieson, from Glasgow. Picture: Toby Melville/Reuters
Michael Jamieson last week raced to a silver medal in the 200 metres breast-stroke, beaten only by a world record time by Daniel Gyurta, of Hungary.
The achievement has brought personal satisfaction and public acclaim but, crucially, it has also guaranteed funding of about £20,000 a year.
"Every 21 months it gets judged on the major meets, so to be in the top eight means my funding is guaranteed for another year, which is a huge weight off my shoulders," said the 24-year-old Glaswegian. "Some guys in the team have a nervous wait now."
Jamieson is supported in other ways – the Harry Fairbairn group providing a car, British Swimming nutritional products. However, his main debt of gratitude is to his parents, Michael and Jacqueline, and his sister, Lauren.
They all made the sacrifices that ensured the swimmer could follow his coach Fred Vernoux to Paris. It was an exercise that drained the family of money, but built the character of the future Olympic medallist.
The flat where he stayed cost his parents £480 a month but tested the fortitude of the swimmer.
"I was living in an attic, my wingspan would touch both sides of the wall, I had one hob to cook on, there was a communal toilet and my shower was doubling up as a wardrobe.
"I had no elevator and there were 120 stairs to the top. When I went out to Paris I wasn't at the level I am now – I finished third at the Olympic trials in 2008, but didn't do enough to meet the funding criteria."
He added: "Going to Paris was a bit of a punt. I put my parents under a lot of strain and stress that year."
There was a burden, too, on Jamieson. "There was many a day when I was sitting in that little box- room on my own thinking: 'Have I really made the right decision?' I remember one day sitting there and I wasn't in the best of moods, it had been a tough week, and I thought: 'I don't know how much longer I can put up with this'."
Jamieson, though, can reflect that it was right to persevere. "It was a big strain on everyone financially, but I wouldn't have changed it," he said.
His parents did not disclose their financial concerns, content to let their son follow his dream.
"I knew things were tight, but it wasn't until I got home I realised how bad things were. Lauren has made so many sacrifices herself but I knew I had their support from the outset. I remember my dad saying he was trying to get an evening job as a driver to get some extra money," he said, adding: "I'm so delighted that I can repay their faith now."
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