SWIMMER Matt Richards is targeting a place at next summer’s Olympics after being crowned European junior champion.

The 16-year-old sensation from Droitwich has been registering impressive times and winning medals on the big stage this year.

Richards set a new national age-group record in the 100-metre freestyle of 49.98 seconds at the British Championships in April.

He lowered it with times of 49.91 and 49.50 at this month’s European Junior Championships before a world-class swim in the final in Kazan, Russia.

Clocking 48.88, Richards won gold in the seventh fastest time by any British male.

The Worcester Swimming Club star picked up a 200m freestyle silver in 1.47.23 — only four Brits have gone faster this year —and bronze in the men’s 4x100m freestyle after an important third leg.

He was competing against swimmers up to two years older than him.

“I am so pleased with how everything went in Kazan,” Richards said.

“Visiting Russia was an amazing experience and made even more special by gaining my first GB cap.

“I was really pleased with all my races and it was great to come home as European junior champion for 100 free, silver medallist for 200 free and bronze for the relay.”

Richards is preparing for the British Summer Championships in Glasgow that start this week aiming to repeat last year’s haul of seven gold medals.

He will then have a rest before returning to action in September and focusing on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

His father Simon Richards said: “At the summer champs he is doing 50m, 100m, 200m freestyle and 50m and 100m butterfly.

“He has also got the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.

“The relays will be harder as the lads are in the open age group whereas last year they were up against other teenagers. But they will relish that.

“Matt is planning to win his five individual events.

“Once that finishes he will then have a few weeks off to rest and recuperate and then next season is when it gets really interesting.

“He plans to qualify for Tokyo. The dates are not confirmed yet for the trials but they will be around March-April time.

“He has got to be in the top two in the individual events and hit a qualifying time.

“For the relays he has got to be realistically in the top four.

“At 17 that is really hard to do because of the physical maturation.

“It is not easy for girls either but for lads at 17 that does not happen very often.

“It will be a massive task but that is the goal he has set himself and what he is going after.”