Proud has final shot at Olympics

Steph Proud
Steph Proud
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STEPH Proud hinted before Christmas that should she fail to qualify for this summer’s Olympics at the British Gas Swimming Championships then she would call time on her career.

But she looks set to have one more roll of the dice after failing to record the London 2012 qualifying time in the 200m backstroke at the Olympic Aquatics Centre on Friday night despite claiming silver.

The 23-year-old started the 200m backstroke final slowly and, although she powered her way into contention late on, it wasn’t enough with her time, 2:09.94minutes, outside of what was required.

Lizzie Simmonds took gold in 2:08.67 to secure an Olympic place, however, all is not lost for Proud with a second chance to claim the second spot coming at the ASA Nationals in Sheffield in June.And, despite her intimations late last year, Proud may well be seen in the pool in the Steel City with history suggesting it will be a case of second time lucky.

“I will probably come back for the second trials. I’ll have to think it over. It really took it out of me and my legs were really hurting afterwards,” said Proud.

“I was inside the FINA A time so if I had won that would have been enough but it didn’t happen like that. Those are the standards that British Swimming have set so you have to accept that.

“Sometimes I don’t have the speed to go out with the other girls so that is something that I have to work on and try and improve.

“I’m pleased to have come second against that class of girls but I can go a lot faster so I am not really that happy with the performance.

“Lizzie went out very quickly as she always does, I’m not a 59-second 100m backstroke swimmer and I don’t think I ever will be.

“So I have to swim my own race. I do feel confident I can come back and make that time. I’ve done it before. I came back two years ago and did it for the Commonwealths for example.”

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington had to contend with nerves and a “bizarre” underwater commentary as she powered to victory in the 800 metres freestyle.

The 23-year-old was unchallenged at the Aquatics Centre and her time of eight minutes 18.54 seconds ensured she will attempt to defend both her freestyle crowns this summer after a similarly dominant performance in the 400m.

Eleanor Faulkner capped off a superb week with a personal best of 8mins 27.11secs – enough to book a slot for London.

Adlington has now swum the three best times in the world this year but, considering Britain are the only nation to have tapered for a major meet, more pertinent is the fact only three other women in textile suits have bettered that time in history.

However, Adlington was so nervous before the race she turned to psychologist Simon Middlemass.

She said: “I was more nervous for some reason. I think it’s because this event means so much to me.

“The 800 has always been the one I want to do well at and the one I’ve loved racing more than anything else so for me it was important to get in and enjoy it as well.

“But I was so nervous I had to speak to Simon my psychologist before the race and he told me to ‘man up’!”

Michael Rock qualified for the Olympic team in the 100m butterfly in 52.02.

Adam Brown won the 50m freestyle but was outside the qualifying time while Fran Halsall was quickest into tonight’s women’s final.

The final action also sees double Olympic medallist David Davies look to reach his third Games in the 1,500m freestyle.

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