Published: 00:00, 07 August 2003
KENT swimmer Daniel Ritchie underlined his outstanding potential with two gold medal-winning performances during the national youth championships.
Ritchie, 16, from Herne Bay, a member of the Thanet Swim Squad, triumphed in the 400m and 1,500m front crawl during the event at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.
His performance over the first 800m of the latter final was so quick it also earned him a county record over the distance.
Ritchie, who is training on the Gold Coast in Australia after being earmarked by British Swimming as potential world class, had not been expecting to perform so well.
He said: “I was only aiming for personal bests. I was really ecstatic to come away from only my second nationals with two golds.”
Ritchie was fastest in the 15/16 400m heats in a personal best 4:06, before going on to triumph in the final in 4:04.66 which again broke his pb.
He was third fastest going into the 1,500m with 16:12.38, but came out second overall.
The swimmer who won was a year older, in the boys’ 17/18 year age group, and Ritchie’s time of 16:03.69 was enough for the 15/16 gold.
His time over the first 800m of 8:32.85 also gave him a new county record by a second.
Ritchie said: “Winning these medals is my biggest achievement to date because I have never gone to a national event and got gold before.
“I think being in Australia and training with people who have been to championships, along with their positive attitudes, has helped me a lot.”
Ritchie returned to Australia on Monday and will train until January ahead of the age group championships in Sydney. This is followed by the trials for next year’s Olympics, but Ritchie’s main aim remains the 2006 Commonwealth Games.