Litchfield brothers to become just third siblings to swim for Team GB at Olympics
The two were among 24 swimmers added to the line-up of Team GB representatives on their way to Tokyo, joining pre-selected quartet Adam Peaty, Duncan Scott, James Wilby and Luke Greenbank.
Strong performances at the British Swimming Selection Trials earned each a seat on the plane to Japan, where they will become only the third brothers to represent Britain in the pool at the same Olympics – after Albert and John Dickin in 1920 and twins Bert and Jack Wardrop in 1952.
While Max, 26, will be hoping to better his fourth-place finish in the 400m individual medley he managed in Rio, Joe is diving headfirst into the unknown.
“Max was injured for the Commonwealth Games in 2018, so this is the first time we’ve really been on a senior team together at one of the biggest competitions, which is pretty incredible” said the 22-year-old.
“Being younger, I’ve been chasing Max throughout my career, but we’re both senior athletes now and to get to this level together is incredible.
“I think the postponement of the Games helped me, because it gave me an extra year in my cycle and I’ve really worked hard together with Max in Loughborough.
“I think it would have been a longshot to go to Tokyo if it had been last year, but to make it on the team – and with my brother – is a dream come true.”
The Litchfield brothers are among more than 1,100 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 technology, science and medical support.
For Max, who has claimed three European medals – including short course gold – and world silver since agonisingly missing out on the podium in Rio, he believes his brother has driven him to new heights.
“I think we’ve pushed each other on for years, but we’re both competing against the best in the world in similar events now so I think that’s just going to increase,” said Max, who is looking to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
“We are competitive and we’re both reluctant to let each other get the better of us, but we’re also really happy for each other. I’m so proud of Joe.”