I'll make waves in Rio, vows Halsall after flopping at home Olympics
22:09 GMT, 30 December 2012
Fran Halsall has made an important New Year’s resolution. The British swimmer never again wants to feel the way she did in the summer of 2012 after finishing the Olympic Games without a medal.
She has written it all down, just in case she ever needs a reminder, because Halsall is determined she will never feel like that again; so low she did not attend the post-Games parade because she ‘didn’t think she should enjoy it’.
While 2012 was an unforgettable year of sport for so many, there are those for whom 2013 and beyond promises far better things.
Gutted: Fran Halsall struggled to perform at the London Olympics
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A silver medal in the 50-metre freestyle at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul earlier this month ‘was never going to make up for the Olympics’, but it has helped Halsall get her spark back. She has a new coach — James Gibson, who guided France’s Florent Manaudou to Olympic gold in the men’s 50m freestyle in London. But, most importantly of all, her confidence has returned.
‘Knowing I’m still a fast swimmer feels really good,’ she says. ‘I gave myself a little pat on the back, if you like. I’m really happy.
‘It took me a couple of months to get over the Olympics. There was a lot of upset and blame; of thinking I’m not good enough. I couldn’t deal with the fact I wasn’t good enough and it wasn’t a very nice feeling.
‘But I took ownership of it and I swam fast again. That was all me. It’s not an Olympic medal but I had to differentiate between Fran the swimmer and the person. You can’t live your life like that.’
Halsall was tipped to star in the pool at London 2012 but did not win a medal in any of her five events. She was not the only one to disappoint, of course: Britain’s swimming team came away with only a silver and two bronze medals at their home Games and have lost 4million of funding as a result.
British Swimming conducted a review into what went wrong in London, which largely blamed the leadership of coaches and the timing of the national trials, which were held 13 weeks before the Games in March.
Bouncing back: Halsall has vowed to return to form for Rio in four years
Head coach Dennis Pursley and performance director Michael Scott also quit, prompting Rebecca Adlington to call the situation ‘an absolute mess’.
Halsall, though, has conducted her ‘own review’ and has a much simpler explanation: she over-trained. Working under Ben Titley, who has since moved to Canada, at Loughborough University, she says she was an ‘Olympic keeno’.
Halsall picked up a shoulder injury in mid-May, which kept her out of the pool for ‘a few weeks’.
‘Trials weren’t the problem,’ adds Halsall. ‘I have always swum faster in the summer: this was the first year I didn’t. You have to swim fast for the trials, wherever you put them.
Back on track: Halsall in Turkey
‘The issue for me was I did too much. I was an Olympic keeno. I probably overdid it and ended up picking up an injury. I tried to do more than I had ever done before.
‘I didn’t want to talk about my shoulder problem (before the Games). It’s an excuse and I didn’t want that. My focus was on swimming as fast as I could and I didn’t want to have that distraction. I still fought for every 10th of a second in every race.’
Halsall, though, is already a veteran of two Olympic Games, despite being only 22 years old.
She is determined not to make the same mistakes third time around.
‘I’m not too old just yet,’ she says. ‘I’m looking forward to Rio in four years’ time.’
Fran Halsall uses Multipower Sportsfood: www.multipower.co.uk
What they said
It's little wonder David Weir described the New Year Honours list as ‘a bit strange’ after Sarah Storey became a Dame but Weir, who also won four Paralympic gold medals in London, was given a CBE.
‘Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood,’ Weir told the Daily Telegraph.
Here's what I've been doing this week
Chugged around the country for the feast of festive football. Clubs might whinge about fixture congestion, but I love the tradition of it all. It works in other sports, too: just look at the record 82,000 people at Twickenham for Saracens’ win against Harlequins on Saturday.
Watched Superstars and revelled in the sheer naffness and rain-sodden Britishness of it all. I can cope with only having shooter Peter Wilson on my television screen every four years, but I enjoyed Mo Farah’s attempts at kayaking, the Brownlee brothers’ rivalry and being proved wrong by Helen Glover’s prowess on the track. And there was I thinking rowers are not always the most co-ordinated of athletes on dry land.
Back on our screens: Olympians took part in the BBC show Superstars
According to Fulham’s programme for their 1-1 draw with Southampton, I ‘swooned’ when I wrote about Dimitar Berbatov’s ‘style and swagger’ in his side’s 2-1 victory against Newcastle this month. That made me laugh, but not as much as the striker’s handwritten ‘Keep Calm and Pass Me the Ball’ T-shirt, which suggested Berbatov is not averse to ‘swooning’ about himself, either.
Performance of the week
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert continues to predict that ‘Aston Villa will be fine’ despite his side suffering a 15-0 deficit over the festive period. That’s some crystal ball he got for Christmas.