Home support motivates Allison
Last year proved to be the most successful 12 months in Olivia Allison’s career after she won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games with her duet partner Jenna Randall and secured a top five finish at the European Championships.
In 2008 Allison and Randall were selected to take part at the Olympic Games in Beijing and their performance in the Water Cube surpassed everyone’s expectations and showed the rest of the world that British Synchro was serious about their future.
The British duet finished in 14th place overall, which proved to be an improvement of six places in just one year from their position at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne.
Their success and continued hard work at the High Performance Centre in Aldershot led to Synchronised Swimming receiving a 110% increase in their 2009-2013 funding from UK Sport.
Since the funding increase the Brits’ success has escalated, culminating in the Commonwealth Games which saw Allison standing on a major international podium for the first time.
“Winning a medal in Delhi at the Commonwealths was amazing,” Allison said. “We had two good performances and it was a great finish to the year.
“It meant a great deal to me as we narrowly missed bronze in 2006 finishing in fourth. We were still really young but it was tough to be so close to the podium.
“The silver we won in Delhi makes all the hard work worthwhile and has inspired me to train even harder so I can experience that feeling again, hopefully one day with Olympic gold medal.”
There were a number of steps that helped Allison reach the podium in 2010 and it began with the Duet being integrated into the team training at the High Performance Centre after the Beijing Olympics.
The team then headed off to Madrid for the 2008 FINA World Trophy where Duet went on to shock the international synchro community by wearing flamenco shoes to execute the thematic Duet.
“We competed at our first competition in Madrid, because they were only judging the artistic routines we didn’t have to perform our technical routine,” Allsion said. “We scored nines in both the team event and the combo event.
“For the Duet we had shoes on which was daunting to start with and the egg beater was difficult to do with them on, but it was worth it especially after all the times in training we caught each other with the heels.”
In 2009, Allison and the rest of the British squad competed in all events at the World Championships a first for the young athletes but they relished the challenge from day one in Rome.
“Rome was a great competition to compete at,” Allison said. “It was the first time since Biz had taken over that the whole squad travelled and competed in all events at a World Championships.
“We had a top 10 finish in Duet improving our ranking from Beijing and the team had some great performances and gained lots of experience. There were so many learning opportunities and we have really used that knowledge to improve further over the last few years.”
Allison’s competition experience has taken her around the world but one thing she is yet to experience is the taste of a home crowd – an opportunity she is looking forward to in Sheffield.
“Having the European Cup in Sheffield is going to be fantastic and an invaluable opportunity for us to prepare for London 2012,” said Allison. “Competing in front of a home crowd is going to be so special there will be family members coming to watch that haven’t been to see me compete before.
“It is going to be important for us to stay focused even when there is a lot more pressure. Avoiding distraction is going to be vital but it's also going to be great having a big crowd cheering us on.
“This whole competition will be such a great learning curve for all of us. Experiencing the home crowd support that the Chinese team received in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 was amazing and even gave me butterflies so having that support for us will be incredible and I just can’t wait.”