Great Britain secure trio of 10km Olympic spots at World ChampionshipsFebruary 5, 2024
A weekend of frantic racing at the Old Doha Port resulted in three Olympic quota spots and a bronze medal for British swimmers at the World Aquatics Championships in Qatar.
Toby Robinson and Leah Crisp both booked Team GB an Olympic place whilst Welsh swimmer Hector Pardoe went one further as he claimed Great Britain’s first world 10km marathon swimming in more than a decade.
The Women’s race kicked things off on Saturday when a remarkable swim from Bath’s Crisp saw her finish in 17th place – which with results elsewhere was just enough to ensure a quota sport for Team GB in the event.
She swam a well-paced race where she sat inside the top 12 for the majority of the contest.
The leading pack stepped up as they entered the final two laps of the 1.6km course but Crisp gave it her all to reach the line in a time of 1:57:50.00 to earn the final continental spot for the event.
It’s an incredible achievement for Crisp who like her teammate Amber Keegan only stepped into marathon swimming last year.
An elated Crisp said after the race: “I got on to the last lap and thought, ‘everything I’ve got left, let’s use it and see what I can do’.
“I got a bit stuck around the second buoy on the last lap, got a bit caught up and lost a few places, so I just had to absolutely go for it down the final kilometre – and I obviously managed to pull it back enough following that.
“It was quite stressful, really hard and everyone was just really gunning for it.
“I’m so over the moon with the outcome. You spend a lot of hours and hard work and dedication and graft, and so many years have gone into this. I have big relief, but also I’m so over the moon.”
City of Sheffield’s Keegan also took part in the race and swam strongly but unfortunately missed out on making it a clean sweep of quota spots for Team GB with a 28th place finish.
‘Overwhelmed and speechless’
Just a day later and the men’s 10km race took place with Robinson and Pardoe looking to add to Crisps’ success.
And they did that with two further Olympic qualification spots secured a bronze from Pardoe to go with it.
The Olympics are a matter of redemption for Wales’ Pardoe, who looks to bounce back from the eye injury that forced him to withdraw from the race in Tokyo three years ago.
He kept himself amongst the leading group throughout the race and when the time came towards the finish he darted down the outside to touch the board behind only Hungary’s Kristof Rasovsky and Marc-Antoine Olivier of France.
It meant he improved on his position in the World Cup event in Funchal in December where he was just 0.2 off a place on the podium to take bronze and Great Britain’s first world 10km medal since Keri-Anne Payne’s gold in the women’s race in 2011.
Loughborough University’s Robinson was close behind, coming home in an impressive 15th place.
Competing in his third World Championships, Robinson unfortunately slipped away from the leading pack on the final lap but he gave it his all down the home straight to get himself just inside the qualifying places.
It means that Team GB will match the three swimmers that competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 this summer in Paris.
Speaking after the race Robinson said: “There was a big moment of uncertainty when I finished, and I was counting the number of people in front of me – and I knew it was a photo finish.
“So 10 minutes went by before I actually found out I’d qualified it, and when I found out, I was so overwhelmed and speechless, just so happy that I’d achieved what I’ve been working for.
“There was a group of about four of us coming into the line at the end, and I knew that every place was so important. I had to give it everything I could to win in that sprint finish at the end, it’s what we’ve been training for.”