Bury St Edmunds-swimmer Chris Walker-Hebborn is set for this Summer’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games after being selected as part of Team GB’s 26-strong swimming squad today (Thursday).
The 25-year-old, who competed at London 2012, had been left fearing for his place last week after finishing well outside the 52.99 qualifying standard in a time of 53.73 seconds in winning backstroke gold at the British Swimming Championships at Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre.
That left his hopes of swimming in Rio hanging by a thread, with Walker-Hebborn commenting afterwards:“It wasn’t a great swim but I’m happy to come away with a gold medal, so it’s up to the selectors now.
“I need to reassess. I’ve had a few hiccups and I’m not one for making excuses, but if I’m firing on all cylinders I know it’s there for me.
“I’ve been on antibiotics for a dodgy wisdom tooth that needs to be taken out, but I decided against it in the lead up to this so that maybe put me at 90% instead of 100%.
“I think there is a strong possibility I can still be selected especially for the medley relay.
“That was the first time in a long time that I’ve under performed but hopefully they can oversee that and look at my consistency over the last couple of years.
“Selection is out of my hands now, they are tough times but there is a reason they select them and make it that hard.
“If I’m on the team then great, and if not, then I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
However, his nervy wait was ended today (Thursday) as Walker-Hebborn’s name was included among the squad of swimmers who had sealed their places on the plane to Brazil.
On the announcement of the squad, Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, said: “After some strong performances at the British Swimming Championships in Glasgow we are excited to welcome this talented group of swimmers onto Team GB for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“The athletes selected have shown that they are capable of producing performances at the highest level and among the ranks are World and European Champions as well as athletes capable of swimming world-record times.
“This group has fantastic potential and I am excited about watching them compete for Team GB in Brazil.”
Meanwhile, Chris Spice, Swimming Team Leader for Rio 2016 added:“What we have is a focused, well-balanced team with some very exciting young prospects.
“The challenge for everyone is to move our performances on between now and the summer. Athletes have done a good job to make the team but our primary focus is to improve performances in Rio and we will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of this.”