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Isabelle Thorpe hopes Olympic adventure will inspire youngsters to stay in sport

As the countdown to the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games edges ever closer, we focus on the English athletes who will be competing in Japan.

Isabelle Thorpe says it’s amazing to be considered as a role model for the next generation of artistic swimmers – and hopes her Olympic adventure will encourage more youngsters to stay in the sport as they grow up.

Thorpe is set to take part in her first Olympic Games when she competes in the duet free and technical events alongside her ‘sister’, Kate Shortman.

And while she is looking to ‘enjoy the experience’, she is also hopeful that her rise to represent her country will leave a lasting legacy and inspire younger girls to stay on the sport as they get older.

She said: “If someone had said I would be inspiring younger girls when I was younger I would be like ‘no, really’? It’s an amazing feeling.

  • Date of Birth: 4/3/2001
  • Club: City of Bristol Aquatics
  • Olympic record: Making Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 Games.

“I really hope I can encourage girls to stay on in the sport. A lot of girls find it hard to go on with sport, especially going through puberty and all the taboo things girls have to go through.

“Looking muscly is a massive thing – a lot of girls don’t want to look muscly – but we need to make sure that they feel it’s okay because it is okay.

“Sport is an amazing thing and mentally it’s really, really beneficial. I hope I can get that message out to try and encourage them to stay on in sport.”

Thorpe and Shortman go into Tokyo building on some impressive performances in the senior ranks – most notably the World Championships in 2019 and the European Aquatic Championships in May.

And the 20-year-old is hoping to achieve even more in Japan.

“We’re hoping to get PBs all round and hopefully make the final,” she said.

“But I think for us, the main goal is to just enjoy the experience. We’re really grateful that everything is all going ahead and we hope it’s going to be a safe games with all the Covid restrictions.

“We are pretty much sisters – we spend so much time together.

Really enjoyable

“We have gone to school together, we train together all the time, we spend so many hours in the pool. Our sport requires so many hours to perfect our routine so obviously we spend a lot of time together.

“We know how we are, we know how to react when someone is sad or we know how to motivate each other.

“I just think we work really well together and we are so comfortable with each other.”

While the Olympic Games will be the pinnacle of Thorpe’s career so far, artistic swimming didn’t come naturally when she first tried out the sport.

“My earliest memory is learning how to do synchro in a small pool in Bristol,” she said. “My auntie was actually coaching and trying to teach us how to tread water, so eggbeater, and I remember struggling how to do it.

“I would say definitely go and join a club. They make it really, really easy to learn to swim or learn to do whatever discipline you’re trying to do.

“I think it’s fun to have other people with similar interests all coming together to do the same thing in a club – it’s really enjoyable.”