Chris Walker-Hebborn qualifies for the Olympic Games

CHRIS Walker-Hebborn will fly the flag for Great Britain and Suffolk in the Olympic pool at this summer’s Games.

The Team Ipswich swimmer had to put in his best time of the year to qualify for the 200m backstroke at the ASA National Championships in Sheffield last night.

And he did just that, winning the title – and the Olympic place – in one minute 57.17 seconds.

The Bury St Edmunds-born Walker-Hebborn, 21, came into the event in improving form, but still without having swum the 1:58.48 Olympic qualifying time this year. He did it for the first time in the morning heats, coming through as the fastest qualifier in 1:58.40.

He had to improve again on that in the final to beat Marco Loughran of Guildford, who claimed the second British Olympic place in 1:58.34.

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Craig McNally of Edinburgh dipped three hundredths of a second inside the qualifying time but just missed out on a place at the Games.

Walker-Hebborn has been tipped to swim – and do well – in the Olympic 200m backstroke since winning four gold medals at the European Junior Championships and two in the World Juniors in 2008. His personal best of 1:56.05 is now three long years ago.

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After missing out in the British Championships at the new Aquatics Centre in Stratford in March, he went into yesterday’s final trial knowing it was his last chance of a place on the Olympic start line. And he proved that this time he had got the tapering of his performances just right.

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