Bury St Edmunds swimmer Chris Walker Hebborn targets World Championship glory

Chris Walker-Hebborn

Chris Walker-Hebborn - Credit: VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM

Bury St Edmunds swimmer Chris Walker-Hebborn is adamant he has never been in a better position to finally bag himself a medal at the World Aquatics Championships.

The 25-year-old backstroke specialist will be competing in the prestigious event for the fourth time when he dives into the pool in Russia – the swimming events running from August 2 to 9.

But, despite his domestic success, he has never climbed the podium at a World Championships, with his best finish being ninth in the 200m backstroke in Rome in 2009, and the same position as part of the 4x100m medley relay two years ago in Barcelona.

A lot has changed since 2013 though, with Walker-Hebborn – rejuvenated following a greater focus on shorter distances – breaking through last year with double gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and claiming no fewer than three golds and a bronze at the following European Championships.

“It’s my fourth World Championships so I’d like to think I know what I’m doing and what to expect,” he said. “I’m still going to be nervous because I want to do well, but I’m going to use it, channel it and hopefully come out with something nice.

“This is my best chance to come away with a medal. I’ve always been one of these people not to put targets out there – some people are like I want this, I want that – for me it’s more, as long as I can make the final then it’s anyone’s game.

“If I can keep the form I’ve had the last year and a half then who knows what can happen. Fingers crossed. I try and block out outside pressure because obviously I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t want to do well.”

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The World Championships also carries added significance with the Rio 2016 Olympics coming quickly into focus on the horizon.

And Walker-Hebborn admits the bigger picture of making Brazil for what would be his second Olympic Games appearance is what drives him on every day.

“It’s one of the biggest competitions out there, it’s different to Europeans and Commonwealths,” he added. “It would be good to hopefully stamp some authority on the world stage but obviously the main goal is Rio. I’ll be using this as a stepping stone.

“And as long as I can stay where I’m at, or improve a little more, then I know I’m in good stead for next year.”

Chris Walker-Hebborn is one of 1,300 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery supported World Class Programme. Find out more www.uksport.gov.uk

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