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London 2012 Olympics: Gemma Spofforth and Georgia Davies through in 100m backstroke

Solid start in the pool as Spofforth, Davies, Tancock and Co ease through heats



10:50 GMT, 29 July 2012

Olympics 2012

World record holder Gemma Spofforth and Georgia Davies both safely negotiated the heats of the 100 metres backstroke as the second day of Olympic action got under way at the Aquatics Centre.

British men's hope Liam Tancock then followed with a solid performance also in the 100m backstroke, coming home second in his heat.

While Spofforth admitted she had plenty to improve on in Sunday night's semi-final, Swansea ITC swimmer Davies was impressive, qualifying sixth fastest as Australian Emily Seebohm set a new Olympic record.

The 24-year-old Spofforth has endured a well-documented turbulent few years of peaks and troughs, both in and out of the pool.

pictured laughing and joking with Beijing silver medallist Kirsty
Coventry while waiting to line up for her race, a huge smile broke out
across Spofforth's face when the crowd spotted the Briton behind the

Eyes on the prize: Gemma Spofforth eased in to the 100m backstroke semis

Eyes on the prize: Gemma Spofforth eased in to the 100m backstroke semis

On Sunday she did enough to qualify, although she will have been glad to have got her heat out of the way, reaching the night's semi-final 12th quickest in one minute 00.05 seconds.

Spofforth said: 'A lot of little
mistakes there, my start wasn't great I slipped on my streamline, finish
was awful, there's a lot of things I can improve on.

'I let the crowd get away from me a little bit. I've been saying all along that it's not the destination, it's the journey.'

it was Davies who was especially impressive, spotting her turn
perfectly which took her up to second in her heat with an equally good
finish seeing her as runner-up behind Seebohm in 59.92secs, with the
Australian setting a new Olympic record of 58.23, just 0.11 outside
Spofforth's world record.

Athens bronze medallist Laure Manaudou, who returned to the sport after
two years away from competition, failed to make it through.

Back it up: Georgia Davies was the most impressive Brit in the pool early on

Back it up: Georgia Davies was the most impressive Brit in the pool early on

Robbie Renwick had the home crowd on their feet with an aggressive swim to qualify for the 200m freestyle semi-finals.

The Scot, who narrowly failed to reach Saturday's 400m freestyle final, took it out from the front to touch second in his heat and sixth overall in 1:46.86.

Renwick, who reached the Olympic final four years ago, said: 'It went pretty good, felt really smooth this morning. It was a solid heat swim, fastest I've been in the morning so I'm in good shape and hopefully get into that final tonight.

'The home crowd there was fantastic cheering me on and I think that really helped me on that swim this morning.

'That's one of the advantages of having a home Olympics, it's fantastic having the home crowd there and hopefully I can step it up again tonight and get into the final. I think it will take a low 1.46 but I feel like I am capable of doing that so fingers crossed.'

Solid stuff: Liam Tancock

Solid stuff: Liam Tancock

Of whether Britain can get their first title in the pool on Sunday, he added: 'Yeah we have a really exciting day today with Rebecca (Adlington) swimming. I know she's in great shape so anything can happen.'

Ieuan Lloyd was 19th overall in 1:48.52 while Sun Yang and Ryan Lochte, who both won titles on Saturday night, battled it out with the Chinese swimmer quickest through.

World 50m backstroke record holder Liam Tancock safely made it into the 100m semis, qualifying eighth in 53.86 although Chris Walker-Hebborn was 20th.

However, it was a sorry morning for Britain's female breaststrokers with no representation in Sunday's semi-finals.

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor is the baby of the team at 16 and given the individual medley is her specialist discipline, qualification last month required an almighty effort.

On Sunday her time of 1:08.32 was 0.24 outside the new personal best she set at those second trials in Sheffield, although that would not have seen her through.

While O'Connor certainly has a bright future, for Kate Haywood, today may mark the countdown to the end of her career after her 1:09.22 placed the Melbourne-based swimmer 28th.

The fastest qualifier was Ruta Meilutyte, a Lithuanian based in Plymouth. The teenager attends Plymouth College with former world 10m platform champion Tom Daley and is coached by Jon Rudd at Plymouth Leander.

Her time of 1:05.56 prompted tears from the youngster who said: 'I didn't expect it at all, I am in shock. I am speechless.'

Aston Villa lead tributes to founding father of the Football League William McGregor

Villa lead tributes to founding father of the Football League

Respects: Chairman of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney

Respects: Chairman of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney

Aston Villa will pay fitting tribute to the founder of the Football League this week after supporters and officials of the Birmingham club combined to mark the centenary of the passing of William McGregor.

The club has commissioned the restoration of McGregor”s grave and are planning a commemorative servicewith several influential figures from the world of football this Tuesday.

Proceedings will commence at 2pm at St Mary”s Church, Handsworth, with officials from the 12 founding clubs due to attend.

Current Football League chairman and current Everton president, Sir Philip Carter, will be among the guests at the open service.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham is also likely to be present. Reflecting the fact that McGregor was a devout member of the Congregational Church, Rev Dr Kirsty Thorpe, leader of theUnited Reformed Church, will be among several clergy who will help conduct the service.

Lord Brian Mawhinney, president of the Football League, will pay tribute to his organisation”s founder and a further address will be given by Peter Lupson, co-author of a recently published biography.

At the end of the service the Bishop of Aston will lead the congregation to McGregor”s graveside for prayers, after which Aston Villa will host a VIP reception at Villa Park.