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World bronze seals Olympic Games spot for Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe

Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe rounded out their historic World Championships with Olympic qualification and a second medal in three days.

After making history with the nation’s first-ever duet medal at a World Championships in the technical event on Monday, the Tokyo Olympians stunned the crowd once again in Doha to win bronze in the free duet final.

Upping their difficulty from the prelims to 44.9500, their routine – based on the phoenix – earnt them 247.2626 points.

It gave them one of the most difficult routines in the field which they expertly executed to send them to the top of the standings with just two pairs to go.

Both China and the Netherlands held on to the top two spots respectively from the prelims but the performance from the Bristol based duo secured the final place on the podium and a spot at their second Olympic Games this summer.

Their combined tallies across the technical and free events ensured the British pair were the top-ranked eligible duet in the race for Paris 2024 qualification, capping a superb week for the pair.

‘Sticking through the tough times’

Speaking after claiming a historic second medal Shortman said: “It’s incredible, honestly. If people knew how much it takes to get to an Olympic Games, it really should not be underestimated – and it’s such a relief now to say we have qualified, we have finally qualified!”

“People ask you all the time, ‘so when are you going to the Olympics?’ and you have to say, ‘the job’s not done yet!’ So it’s such a relief to be able to say we have finally made it.”

Thorpe added: “Even after the prelims swim yesterday, everyone was saying, ‘ah, you’ve basically made it’, and we were like ‘no, no, it’s not done until it’s done!’

“So we are just so happy it’s a weight off our shoulders – and on to big things hopefully this year.”

Kate and Izzy’s free routine was based on the phoenix, symbolising the regeneration of artistic swimming following last year’s rule changes. And that switch is something the British pair are thriving on.

Shortman and Thorpe hope that their success inspires youngsters to give artistic swimming a try and they encourage athletes to continue through the tough times to reach their goals.

“The fact that we are in medal contention for an Olympic medal is just something we never thought we’d be able to say. I am just so proud of us for sticking through it.

“We’ve had some pretty tough times these last two years of this Olympic cycle, and it is sometimes really hard to see the light when there isn’t anything changing,” said Shortman.

“But within the sport, the rule change has been incredible. It’s amazing for the sport, it’s so engaging to see the sport and to see different people on the podium, we are just so excited with what’s to come.”

Thorpe added: “The rule changes have really benefited us because it has helped make the sport a lot more objective. We’ve been training really hard every day to make our routines really risky, but just enough so we can pull through and get the medal!”

If you’re inspired to get involved in artistic swimming, you can find your nearest club at discover.swimming.org.

The next generation of artistic swimmers will be in action at the GoCardless Swim England National Age Group Championships at the K2 Crawley on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 March.

It is one of four artistic swimming national events staged by Swim England in 2024. To find out more, please click here.