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Olympic selection an ‘incredible honour’ for Alice Dearing and Hector Pardoe

Alice Dearing and Hector Pardoe have described the ‘incredible honour’ they feel after being selected to contest the marathon swimming events at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Both athletes are making their Olympic debut – with Dearing set to become the first black women to represent Great Britain at an Olympic swimming event.

Speaking on her selection, she said: “I’m so excited and honoured to be on the Tokyo 2020 Team GB squad. Achieving this is beyond my dreams and I’m so thrilled to be representing GB.”

Pardoe added: “The feeling of qualifying for my first Olympics is even more incredible than I ever envisioned it being.”

Both athletes achieved their qualification times while competing at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in Setubal, Portugal.

A win from Pardoe and a fourth-place finish for Dearing in the 10km evemt delivered the results they needed to fill the available two Olympic quota spots to Great Britain in the marathon events.

‘Daydreaming about this day’

After her race, Dearing said: “I can’t quite believe it – I’ve been daydreaming about this day for the past year and a half, ever since the first lockdown came in.

“So to have the day arrive, have everything fall into place, thankfully, have such a great team around supporting me, to get in, swim to my potential and qualify for the Olympic Games place is just a bit surreal right now.

“I can’t quite process it.

“When I was younger, I never really thought about being an Olympian – I thought ‘oh wow, it would be so cool’, but I knew how much hard work went into it and honestly didn’t think I was cut out for it.

“So I’m really proud to have proved myself wrong, in a way, and to achieve beyond my wildest dreams.

“I’m just so grateful to everybody who has helped me along the way, everyone who has believed me, encouraged me.”

‘The feeling is indescribable’

After winning the Men’s 10km event, Pardoe knew he would not only be taking home the gold medal but also had done what he needed to book his ticket to Tokyo.

“The feeling is indescribable,” he said. “Obviously I’m ecstatic to get the qualification spot but also to get the win on top of that, I was thinking before the race that I was a contender for winning the race, but the pressure and my mind were more focused on the qualification spot.

“I felt good in the water. The race was always going to be hard without any of the men who have already pre-qualified to help set the pace – this and the fact it was in a wetsuit meant I always knew it was going to come down to the sprint.”

Dearing and Pardoe will now join the previously named team of 30 swimmers, 12 divers and artistic swimmers Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe.

The women’s marathon event is scheduled to take place at the Odaiba Marine Park on Wednesday August 4, with the men’s event the next day at the same venue.

Should be very proud

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission, said: “I’d like to congratulate Alice and Hector on their selection and am pleased to see a really strong swimming squad finalised for the Tokyo Games.

“Both athletes put in confident performances at their qualifier in Portugal recently, especially Hector’s first place finish.

“Both athletes should feel very proud of making it to their debut Games and their performances this season will put them in good stead for competition in Tokyo.

“Today also marks a significant moment in British Olympic history as Alice becomes the first black female swimmer to compete for Team GB, something she should feel proud of and is an important moment in the 125-year history of British Olympians going to the Games.”

Bernie Dietzig, British Swimming marathon swimming lead, added: “They have both done a superb job of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

“Alice’s fourth place in Portugal was a really strong finish in a really strong field, while Hector delivered the perfect race in his event.

“They have both done a superb job and we now look forward to seeing them compete on the Olympic stage.”

Pictures: FINA