British marathon swimmer and former Olympic medallist Keri-anne Payne has put herself into contention for Rio 2016 Olympic selection after finishing second in the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Portugal.
Payne (Warrender), a former 10km Olympic silver medallist in 2008, and team mate Danielle Huskisson (University of Stirling) had to finish within the top nine and as the highest placed Brit. Both athletes finished within the cut but Payne ahead of Huskisson in ninth.
The all-or-nothing race in Setubal saw a field of over 50 swimmers battling for the top nine spots but the experience of Payne showed as she swam her own race from the outset and finished strongly less than a second behind China’s Xin Xin.
Under clear skies, Payne swam the course for the very first time and had to contend with cold temperatures and a strong tidal flow as well as a world class field. However, Payne stuck to her race plan and brought it home to be considered for her third Olympic Games.
Payne said after the race: “I have put so much into this last four years and I’m so happy that it’s all paid off in the end.
“Coming fourth at a home Olympics was the worst place to come and I took a year out after that, but I just decided at one point I needed to fully commit to it. Getting back into training was hard, but I have loved the journey – even today when I was elbowed in the face! Everything I’ve done is to get prepared to stand on the podium in Rio. I’ll be doing everything that I can to make that happen.”
British Swimming already has Jack Burnell (National Centre, Loughborough) as a consideration for nomination to Team GB after he finished fifth in the 10km event at last year’s World Championships.