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British duet Kate and Isabelle ‘raring to go’ as they aim to realise Olympic dream

A year ago, Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe were counting down the days until arguably the biggest moment of their senior international career.

After winning a second silver as part of the Great Britain team at the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Paris, Shortman and Thorpe were brimming with confidence ahead of the Olympic Games qualification event.

Then came the disappointing news that Tokyo 2020 was being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It would have been understandable if the British duet had felt like it was a missed opportunity.

However, Shortman and Thorpe focused instead on the positives and they believe they are now better equipped to realise their Olympic dream at the rearranged Games this summer.

They have a new routine, are training harder than they ever have before and are relishing the opportunity to show they belong among the best in their discipline.

“It sounds so cliche but it’s literally been the dream since we were about seven to compete at an Olympic Games,” said Shortman. “To say we’re Olympians would encompass everything we have been training for for nearly a decade – it would literally mean everything.

“Last year started off really well and we were excited with how everything was going. We were thinking this is going to be our year and then, obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.”

“We were counting down the days to the qualifiers,” added Thorpe. “Then to have it moved to next year was really disappointing.

“We were ready but at least it’s still going ahead.

“Training is going well and we are raring to go and ready for qualifiers. We have got a new routine which is definitely fun and exciting and we are just looking forward to qualification really.”

That seemed a long way off following the postponement of the Games and then the country being locked down last March to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

So thankful

With pools closed, Shortman and Thorpe had to find other ways to ensure they could stay on top of their game – but they don’t feel the restrictions have had an adverse effect on their progress.

“Once the qualifiers were postponed and then cancelled and the Olympics were then postponed, our focus straight away was pretty much lets just get on with it,” said Shortman.

“It was a really good outlet for us to have training with everything that was going on in the world in general.

“Even though we weren’t taking a break from training, we were taking a mental break from the long hours in the pool so I think we definitely have got a really positive mental attitude.

“We started [last year] on a high. We are so thankful to have had that experience at the French Open and it’s definitely something we drew on in lockdown.”

Staying positive was key for the duet and Thorpe admitted she is now enjoying the sport more than ever before.

She said: “We had a really good programme during lockdown for home training which was obviously very different as we are an aquatic sport so we are so used to training all the time in the water.

New outlook

“It taught us a new way of training and we had to adapt really quickly. There was no time to dwell on it otherwise you got sucked into this feeling of ‘oh no, nothing is going well’.

“It’s helped us clear our heads and has given us a new outlook on training. I’m enjoying it more now than I was before so it’s definitely helped.

“All the training we are doing just helps motivate you so much – you just have to remember that goal at the end of the day.”

Shortman believes that the postponement of the Games may ultimately work in the favour of the duet.

“We are going to be more mature, more stronger and getting closer to our goals,” she said. “So I don’t think the delay has hindered us at all.”

Thorpe added: “Obviously, we’re looking to qualify for the Olympics but to make a final would be amazing and that is our goal.”

With such a determined and focused attitude, few would bet against them achieving that target.

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