DUNCAN SCOTT’S time is coming and it arrives with a royal seal of approval.

The Alloa swimmer does a neat line in deadpan self-deprecation – he’s not unlike Andy Murray in that regard – and he dexterously wriggles out of directly answering questions about his targets for this summer’s Olympics with some evasive talk about focusing only on “executing his race plans”.

Make no mistake about it, however, Scott wants gold in Tokyo and appears to be in ideal shape to get it judging by his superlative performances at the recent British trials where he broke three national records to lead the world rankings.

The 23-year-old was a double relay silver medallist in Rio but both his talent and the level of expectation have grown substantially in the subsequent five years.

Now approaching the peak of his abilities, the Stirling University swimmer – one of five from that institution to be named in yesterday’s Olympic team announcement – will be heavily favoured to triumph in one or more of the 100m and 200m freestyle and the 200m individual medley events, while also contributing to expected British relay success.

No less a figure than Michael Phelps predicted as much. The greatest Olympian of all time, a photo of the American shaking hands with Scott in Rio five years ago remains a treasured piece of memorabilia.

Only yesterday, however, did Scott discover that rather than just a passing gesture, Phelps had mentioned him in a media conference as one to watch. Now the closest thing to swimming royalty could well be proved correct.

“Oh jeez, that’s the first time I’ve heard that,” said Scott of Phelp’s compliments. “That’s quite cool!

“Phelps was a stand-out hero for someone of my age. In 2008 the fact that there was no 4x100 mixed medley and he was able to get eight medals is just insane.

“I didn’t know the photo was being taken and it was just one of those, like after any relay, everyone shakes hands and says ‘well done’.

“He’s someone I’ve looked up to massively and when I saw that photo it was actually a really special moment to get to race against him in one of his last races. It was really cool.”

Coming even close to Phelps’ achievements will be beyond him but Scott will be undeterred. Despite the raised levels of expectation, he insists he will head to Tokyo with the same mindset as the 18 year-old that travelled to Rio.

“My internal expectations are far greater than any external pressures that anyone can put on me,” he insisted. “I go in with the same attitude as I did in 2016.

“Obviously my PBs are a little bit quicker and I’m a little bit older and thankfully now coming to the end of my uni degree.

“I’ve maybe got a few less spots on my face but apart from that it’s going to be quite similar in that I’ll go into races with the same attitude of things I want to achieve.

“I swim because I enjoy it. I love competing on the international stage and racing the best athletes in the world. That’s priority number one. And priority number two is to go there and swim well and fast.

“There are things I want to achieve and there are great opportunities in the relays as well. I want to enjoy it but I’m there to do a job as well.”

Scott showed he was a person with impressive moral fibre too when he refused to share a podium with doping cheat Sun Yang at the world championships in 2019.

The International Olympic Committee have said they will uphold Rule 50 of their charter and punish athletes who choose to protest on the field of play or at medal presentations.

Team GB has said they won’t stop athletes from protesting, with Scott echoing team-mate Adam Peaty’s comments on that stance.

But the Scot says it won’t be at the foremost of his thoughts in the build-up to Tokyo.

“I would stand by what Peaty has said,” he added. “ I don’t know what people are planning on doing.

“But there’s got to be a reason why somebody would want to do it. The Olympic Games is a global stage so it’ll definitely get seen but I’ve no idea what people are wanting to do on the podiums.

“That’s the last thing I’m going to be thinking about in my preparations for the Olympic Games, to be honest.

“We’ve discussed the number of events I’ve got to be looking at. I’ve got the Europeans coming up and then I’ve got to focus on a number of different things.

“That’s the last thing that’s going to be on my mind to be honest. That’s going to be down there with ‘did I do the washing before I left the house?”