London Spy

British medal hopes: Keri-Anne Payne

London Spy

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Payne shows off her gold medal at the 2011 open water Worlds

Long-distance swimmer Keri-Anne Payne made it on to the stage at the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony, but not quite in the capacity she would have hoped for.

Having regained her world 10km open-water swimming crown in Shanghai just a few months earlier, she would have more than merited a place on the shortlist for the top award. However, she had to settle for presenting a gong.

For this driven 24-year-old, who competes in arguably the most gruelling Olympic discipline of them all, playing a supporting role does not come easily.

Out of the water, the South Africa-born athlete is a keen baker, who often updates visitors to her website about her latest recipe. However, in the water Payne transforms into a fearsome competitor who often has to deal with kicks and punches from her rivals to finish first.

In her early career Payne picked up a plethora of pool medals on the national and European scene, but it was not until the Beijing Olympics, when she won silver in the 10km open-water swim, that she really announced herself on the world stage.

Her first world title in the event followed a year later in Rome and although she was not able to retain the crown in 2010, she was back on top again last year.

By winning in Shanghai, Payne became the first British athlete in any sport to confirm qualification for London 2012 and she will be determined to finish first again this summer.

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