Serbia’s ‘man of the hour’, Velimir Stjepanovic, will return to Doha next month for the 12th FINA Swimming World Championships with medals on his mind.

For the 21-year-old Serbian, 2014 has been a stellar year that has seen him emerge from the ranks of a ‘star in the making’ to gaining recognition on an international stage. The pinnacle of that transformation came in August 2014 when he won two gold medals at the European Championships in Berlin, in the 200m and 400m freestyle. Speaking ahead of the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships, he said:

I’ve sort of tucked that away as the new season started and focused on what’s next for me. It didn’t really change my approach to training, we were always going to try to do all the World Cup races as practice for swimming under difficult conditions which is new to me, so we will see how this approach affects me for the World Championships.’

He went on from Berlin to compete in Doha at the opening meet of the FINA Mastbank Swimming World Cup where he narrowly missed out on gold to Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes in both the 400m and 200m freestyle events. The European Champion will return to Hamad Aquatic Centre in December looking to go one better in his signature events, and has not let his success in Berlin distract him from the task at hand. He said:

The training I’ve had from my new coach coupled with gym time has made me feel much stronger, especially when it comes to my legs and explosive power. This showed in my dives during the European events.’

Whilst technique and improvements are on his mind, so, clearly, are medals. He added:

As I always say, first I have to make finals and then anything can happen, the competition is pretty strong in my events but I’ll still be going to try and win a medal.’

Stjepanovic, who has been swimming since he was six years old, enjoyed success in his earlier career, medalling twice at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and making the finals of the 200m butterfly final at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He is one of 1,100 swimmers from more than 170 countries that will compete at the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha from December 3-7. Joining him in the line-up are US Olympic Gold medallist Ryan Lochte, Olympic champion Chad Le Clos, and multiple World Record holder, Katinka Hosszu. Further World Record holders set to compete in Doha include Italy’s Federica Pellegrini, Agnel Yannick of France, South Africa’s Roland Schoeman and Sweden’s Malin Therese Alshammar to name but a few.

Don’t miss out on your chance to see the world’s most powerful athletes compete over five days of thrilling action in Doha. Purchase your tickets at Virgin Megastores or online at starting at QR10. Morning heats start at 9:30 am, with the fireworks of the finals kicking off at 6 pm.

For more information, visit the FINA Swimming World Championships’ website.