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RECORD BREAKER: Chris Walker-Hebborn, who sealed a world mixed medley title in a world record time alongside Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall this week
RECORD BREAKER: Chris Walker-Hebborn, who sealed a world mixed medley title in a world record time alongside Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall this week

Chris Walker-Hebborn believes he is on the verge of something big ahead of the 2016 Olympics, after clinching a world title in record time.

The Bury St Edmunds swimmer again showed his undoubted potential at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia as he finished fifth in Tuesday’s 100m backstroke final, clocking a time of 53.02 seconds, just outside his personal best as gold went to Australia’s Mitchell Larkin in 52.40.

However, that was to prove a mere footnote in the 25-year-old’s championship endeavours as he swam close to his lifetime best (52.88), clocking 52.94 to lead off Great Britain’s Mixed Medley alongside girlfriend Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall as the quartet secured the world crown in a new world record time of 3:41.71.

“It was the perfect night all round really,” said the European and Commonwealth Games gold medallist speaking to the Free Press from Kazan.

“To be crowned a world champion and to do it in a world record time is always special.

“I think myself and Siobhan are also the first couple to win a world swimming title in the same race, so to be able to share the podium with her was amazing.

“We knew we had a huge chance of winning a medal in the relay events and we proved it. My individual performance in the 100m backstroke event was not as good but I knew coming away with a medal was going to be a really tough ask.

“The best I had ever done before now was reaching the semi-finals and finishing ninth, so to make it through to the final was a success in itself.

“That is also the second fastest I have ever swam and to clock the time I did was really pleasing.

“It is where I wanted to be coming into the championships and so I’m really pleased with how things went.

“I think I am working towards something big ahead of next year; things are definitely on the up.”

Looking ahead to next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Walker-Hebborn, who will be going in search of further medal glory in the mixed men’s event on Sunday, is happy for some of his rivals to take the spotlight in the run-up to the Games as he aims to remain under the radar in his medal pursuit.

“I’ve had a really good championships but in the individual discipline I’m happy to remain under the radar ahead of the Olympics and focus on myself,” he added.

“The guys who won the medals here will have a lot of expectation on them for Rio and I prefer to be out of that.

“I’m in a really good place personally and I’m looking forward to the next 12 months; it’s going to be exciting.”


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