Hector Pardoe’s Olympic debut was brutally cut short by an eye injury, but now he has his sights set on redemption after clinching a dramatic World Championships bronze.

The Welsh marathon swimmer charged to Britain’s first 10km marathon swimming World Championship medal for more than a decade on Sunday in Doha. Pardoe’s sensational finish in the final seconds of the Men’s 10km event on Sunday – which saw him surge clear of a small pack in the final few strokes to touch for bronze – also saw him clinch Olympic qualification alongside GB teammates Toby Robinson and Leah Crisp.

Despite clinching his first World Championships medal, Pardoe is already looking ahead to clinching Olympic ‘redemption’ in Paris.

“The emotions were quite high, following the path of redemption from Tokyo 2020 with the eye injury,” he said.

“I just wanted to secure the Olympic qualification, so to come out with a medal is even better. I was feeling great throughout the whole race, that last lap, I made it happen and followed my strategy perfectly.

“In Funchal in December, I just missed out on that podium by 0.2 seconds. I wasn’t going to let that happen this time, and I managed to get my hand on the wall first. That’s a medal for GB that puts us on the map in marathon swimming.

“I went into Tokyo as a 20-year-old without much experience. The experience I’ve gained in the last three years will really set me up nicely to compete with the big boys in Paris. “

Swimmers had to complete six laps of the 1.6km course, set in the choppy seas of Old Doha Port. For Pardoe, historically a strong finisher, the aim was to keep himself among the lead pack throughout the entire race, and he proceeded to do just that, retaining a consistent pace and never letting the front few racers out of his sights.

DOHA, QATAR – FEBRUARY 04: Bronze medallist Hector Pardoe of Team Great Britain poses during the medal ceremony for the Men’s Open Water 10km on day three of the Doha 2024 World Aquatics Championships at Doha Port on February 04, 2024 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

As the pack began to split late in the race, and the athletes veered off the previous course to head into the funnel to the finish, it meant Hector was where he wanted to be to launch down the outside of several rivals and swim in to touch the board behind only Hungary’s Kristof Rasovsky and Marc-Antoine Olivier of France. That place also made sure of an Olympic berth.

After a near-miss at his previous outing in the Open Water World Cup, and with memories of the premature end to his Olympic debut in 2021, this was a result a long time in the making for Pardoe.  

“I went into Tokyo with high expectations from myself and other people, and to come out of it with an elbow to the eye and the dream curt short was a massive knock to my confidence.’” He added.

“I had to come out of it and reset and rebuild. I’ve managed to stay healthy for the last three years and I’m pushed every day in training. I’m really looking forward to Paris, it’s all about redemption.”