WHATEVER happens in Paris at his second Olympics, Matt Richards’ life is going to be transformed this summer.

Richards was just 18 when he made his Olympic debut in Tokyo, playing a key role in bringing home 4x200m freestyle gold.

Now 21, Richards has an individual world title to his name and heads to Paris with even greater ambitions, having qualified in the 200m freestyle at the expense of Olympic champion Tom Dean.

The aim will be to follow in Dean’s footsteps, but just as important will come upon his return to the UK, with Richards set to marry fellow swimmer Emily Large.

He said: “It will be a jam-packed summer, but I like to do everything at once. It’s nice to have something even more important to think about when I get back from the Games.

“I’ve always said pressure is a privilege. I’m in a very lucky position to be where I am. Anybody that is talking to me about pressure or expectation, I don’t see that as a bad thing by any means. I see that as I’ve done something well. I’m really welcoming the challenge; I’m looking forward to it.

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“From my perspective, my plan is to go out there and enjoy every moment. I’ve always found I race my best when I’m happy and enjoying things. I can’t be happier than this, at the pinnacle of sport. I can’t wait to get out there. The preparation going into it has been fantastic. I’m in the shape of my life mentally and physically. I’m looking forward to getting out there and see what I can do.”

Richards is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.

Richards triumphed in the 200m freestyle at the British Championships in April, beating Dean and Duncan Scott, who won gold and silver in Tokyo respectively.

He will be joined by Scott in the individual event in Paris, one of five events for Richards, who is also set to compete in the 100m freestyle as well as three relays.

Britain will be favourites to retain the 4x200m freestyle crown, while Richards has a genuine chance of a medal in all five events – an achievement that would see him overtake Scott, whose four medals in Tokyo were the most-ever at one Games by a Team GB athlete.

Should he succeed, Richards could move into a completely different stratosphere in terms of notoriety, and it is a situation which the youngster would embrace.

He added: “From my perspective, I know there is a lot on the line. I know just how important this summer, both for myself but also for my future. But I can’t wait to get out there, I’m just excited to race. There is pressure, there is some level of expectation but the most important thing to me is doing what I love and I’m lucky enough to say I get to do that every day and I will do that at the Games.

“That is what I’m going to focus on. The results will come off the work I’ve done in training and that attitude of getting out there and loving what I’m doing is the best way I can go about it. Who knows what could happen after the summer but for now I’ll keep being me and trying to do what I do.”