Dean’s win is even more remarkable given that it was by no means certain he’d even make it to this year’s Olympics. He was forced to spend a total of seven weeks out of training after contracting coronavirus twice over the past year.
Following his second positive test 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.”
His proud mum also 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.’”
Mrs 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.”
Jacquie Hughes, mother of Tom Dean, describes the "joyous moment" her son won an Olympic gold medal in the men's 20… https://t.co/zsljzlMau1