Lifetime best sees 16-year old O’Connor seal Olympic spot
22nd June 2012
Teenager Siobhan-Marie O’Connor became the youngest British swimmer to qualify for London 2012 with 100m Breaststroke gold on the third day of the 2012 British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield.
- For more video interviews with Rebecca Adlington and Chris Walker-Hebborn as well as race highlights from day three click here
Just two days after 30-year old David Carry became the oldest Brit to add his name to the roster, 16-year old O’Connor clocked a personal best of 1.08.04 to capture gold and clinch her Olympic berth.
I've focused so much since the first trials and now I'm going to my first Olympics - it's unbelievable.
The British Gas ITC Bath swimmer underlined her potential by reaching the 200m Individual Medley semi-finals at last year’s World Championships in Shanghai.
But after missing out on an Olympic spot over 200m IM, O’Connor wasn’t to be denied in the 100m Breaststroke, having sacrificed her school prom to compete this evening. She set a 1.26 second personal best to qualify fastest from this morning’s heats before leading the final from gun to wall to seal victory in 1.08.04.
“I’m so shocked,” said O’Connor. “I found it so hard to deal with missing out in March but I had to get back in and do the hard work.
“At one point I never saw myself going to London but I’ve given everything in training.
“I’ve focused so much since then and now I’m going to the Olympic Games. It is just unbelievable.”
University of Bath swimmer Stacey Tadd finished second setting a new personal best time of 1.08.74 while Rachael Wilson of Derwentside clocked 1.09.24 (PB) for bronze.
Stephanie Proud (Chester-le-Street) also clinched the qualification time for her first Olympics with a golden performance in the 200m Backstroke.
Having finished second behind Lizzie Simmonds at the first trials in March, the 23-year old booked her place to join Simmonds at the Games with a controlled final in Sheffield, holding off the challenge of youngsters Karley Mann and Georgia Hohmann in the final 50m to touch in 2.09.40.
Hohmann of Nova Centurion finished in second in 2.12.47 and Hillingdon’s Mann was third in 2.12.62.
“I’m so relieved, I’ve been so nervous this week,” said Proud. “The race was tough and on those last few metres I was thinking oh no, where’s the wall.
“But I knew I was far enough ahead that no one was going to catch me so it was about getting to the wall in time.
“I was feeling good this week but it is easy to get caught up in that. I still had to make it happen.”
Having clocked his first Olympic qualification time in the 200m Backstroke 24 hours before, Chris Walker-Hebborn secured his second in as many days with gold in the 100m Backstroke.
The British Gas ITC Bath swimmer took the race out confidently before coming home to touch in a lifetime best 54.26 – 0.14 seconds under the Olympic standard.
“To come here and qualify for the Olympics in two events is just amazing,” said Walker-Hebborn.
“I feel like 10kg has been lifted off my back after qualifying last night and during that swim I just felt so relaxed this evening.
“I had a great swim this morning and followed it up tonight.
“It is just a nice feeling to know that the pressure is off. I feel like I can be myself now and enjoy my swimming. The more relaxed I feel, the more it helps my racing.
“I’ll sit down with my coach and discuss where we go from here; to make sure my taper is right and I can be the best I can be in London”.
Ryan Bennett of British Gas ITC Stirling pushed Walker-Hebborn all the way before touching in a personal best 54.63 for silver while Marco Loughran (Guildford) came home for bronze in 54.99.
Rebecca Adlington may have already confirmed her Olympic selection but the double Olympic champion was in dominant form as she claimed gold in her favourite 800m Freestyle.
As much as that hurt, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life and now I'm looking forward to London.
Competing in her last event before London 2012, the Nova Centurion swimmer, who also lifted 200m Freestyle gold on the opening day in Sheffield, proved too strong for her national rivals as she stormed home in 8.19.03.
And the 23-year old admitted she was looking forward to starting her final stage of training before tapering for the Games.
“That was such a painful swim,” she said. “I didn’t plan to go as fast as that tonight. I expected to finish in the mid twenties.
“I actually felt really sore and swimming on your own for so long is really difficult, so to get that time is really unexpected.
“As much as that hurt, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and I’ve had the best preparation.
“Now I’m looking forward to London.”
City of Sheffield’s Ellie Faulkner finished second in 8.35.83 and Megan Gilchrist of Armadale third (8.39.24).
Adam Brown (Hatfield) and Amy Smith (University of Loughborough) claimed the 50m Freestyle titles, having both qualified fastest from the heats.
Brown, who fell 0.25 short of the Olympic qualification time, touched in 22.36 for gold ahead of Jason Lawson of Stockport Metro (22.73 PB) and Bolton Metro’s Matthew Tutty (22.84).
Smith, who captured the 100m Freestyle title 24 hours earlier, came home in 25.36 ahead of City of Manchester swimmer Jessica Lloyd (25.79 PB) and British Gas ITC Loughborough’s Emma Wilkins (25.98).
The honours in the 50m Breaststroke went to Daniel Broady (Gloucester) who struck gold in a personal best 28.97 to hold of silver medallist Christopher Steeples (29.02 PB) from City of Manchester and bronze medallist Euan Inglis (29.05 PB) of Edinburgh University .
Finally, City of Sheffield’s Matthew Johnson held off strong competition in a nail-biting 400m Individual Medley final to take gold in 4.18.28.
Lewis Smith of Warrender won silver in 4.18.33 while Xavier Mohammed (City of Cardiff) claimed bronze in 4.19.46.