When Ross Murdoch was crowned Commonwealth Games 200m breaststroke champion in front of his home fans at Glasgow 2014, the Scot could have been forgiven for thinking things were heading firmly in one direction.
Instead the 23-year-old has had to wait three whole years before getting the chance to prove his worth in his favoured event on the global stage again, with a certain Adam Peaty also storming past him in the breaststroke stakes in general to sweep all before him in the pool and the record books.
The golden boy of Glasgow, Murdoch has instead taken on the role of supporting act, missing out on competing in the 200m breaststroke event not once but twice – at the 2015 World Championships and then even more painfully at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Murdoch did still make his Olympic debut in South America albeit in the 100m breaststroke where he finished ninth, missing out on the final as Peaty made history again with Britain’s first male Olympic swimming gold in 28 years.
The Scot has nothing but praise for the way Peaty has raised the bar for breaststroke swimming – the latter has signalled his intent to tackle the 200m more seriously in the future – although Murdoch’s own disappointment is there to see, even now ten months on.
“I had such highs and lows last year with the lows of the trials to the highs of winning the Europeans and then the low of Rio. It was hard to get myself out of that place,” he said.
“But I’m definitely a lot happier with my swimming, I’m actually enjoying training and the things that go with it.”
After a winter of hard work, Murdoch came out firing in 2017, claiming his first 200m breaststroke title at the British Championships to book his spot on the team for next month’s World Championships in Budapest.
Aside from last year’s European Championships where he won gold in the event in London last year, it will be Murdoch’s first international outing in the 200m breaststroke since Glasgow 2014 – although he is adamant he hasn’t got a point to prove.
“I have worked hard and I am excited just to be back on the big stage and a part of it again in my favoured event,” explained Murdoch, who won 100m breaststroke bronze and 4x100m medley mixed relay gold at the last Worlds in 2015.
“This will be my third World Championships and I’m just going to go there and enjoy it. Just being able to swim my main event on the global stage for the first time in three years is exciting. It’s been tough having to sit on the sidelines watching those major finals.
“But I’ve earned the right to be on the team in the 200m and so I’m just going to focus on my own race. It will be about who turns up on the day.”
This summer’s World Championships kicks off a busy 12 months for Britain’s swimmers with the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April followed by next summer’s European Championships in Glasgow.
For the first time ever, a new multi-sport event will combine the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon, along with a new golf team championships, between August 2-12 in Glasgow. The 2018 European Athletics Championships meanwhile will be held in Berlin from August 7-12.
More than 3,000 of the continent’s finest athletes will descend on the Scottish city over 11 days of action for the biggest sporting event in the country since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Murdoch has been has been named as the official Glasgow 2018 European Championships ambassador and admitted he has no doubt Scotland will put on a show.
“It’s a brand new concept for a multi-sport event which is really exciting,” he said.
“I’m really honoured to be asked to be an official ambassador. Scotland has shown that it can host world class events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, World Gymnastics Championships and that’s only going to grow going forwards.
“Hopefully the British public can get behind the event and we can get more fans of all the different sports that will be on show.”
Tickets for the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – an exciting new multi-sport event bringing together some of the continent’s leading sports – are now on sale at www.glasgow2018.com/tickets starting at £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s and over-60s