Spofforth reaches Olympic 100m backstroke final

Gemma Spofforth gave herself the chance to bury some Olympic demons by reaching the 100m backstroke final at London 2012 – then insisted being part of the medal showdown was all but irrelevant.

Eurosport

Spofforth endured the agony of finishing fourth on two occasions at her opening Games experience in Beijing four years ago – in the 100m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay.

Both before and after that Chinese setback, the 24-year-old has also had to endure some terrible personal tragedies with both her mother, and her father’s new partner, dying of cancer.

There was talk of retirement earlier this year, however Spofforth showed something close to the form that brought her the world record – which still stands from 2009 – on the way to the final.

The Portsmouth Northsea flyer qualified sixth fastest for the final but despite the omens looking good, she refused to talk of medals.

“I am just excited to see what I can do in the final and that is all I am concentrating on,” she said.

“I feel good in the water and I felt a lot better in that race and so things are looking good but for me it is all part of the process.

“It’s been quite a special journey for the last few years. The process and the journey are more important than the outcome and that is how I am looking at it.

“After the heats this morning there were a lot of things that I corrected for the semi-final so I was happy with that. I was over thinking the race in the heats and there’s still little bits to play with for the final.”

If Spofforth is to fight her way onto the podium, the events of last night ensured she won’t be the first British swimmer to get there.

Two-time reigning Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington battled her way valiantly to 400m freestyle bronze for Britain’s first swimming medal of the Games.

Adlington’s triumph was Britain’s second medal of the day after Lizzie Armitstead took road race cycling silver and Spofforth admitted she had been inspired by her teammates.

“I was so happy for Rebecca,” she added. “It lifted me up; it was such an inspiration – two golds for her and now a bronze.

“In the final I’m just excited about what I do there. I felt a lot better in the water and I can be back to where I was. As long as I enjoy it I’ll be happy.”

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