Sport

‘Rio the main target’ despite successful year for Stockport Metro swimmer Sophie Allen

By Matthew Lees

As the end of arguably the greatest year of British sport nears, athletes could be forgiven for putting their feet up.

But having competed in the Olympics, the European Championships and the FINA World Cup, Stockport Metro swimmer Sophie Allen has still to compete in the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul next month.

In a year packed full of memories and great achievements for Allen, the Rio 2016 Olympics in under four years’ time remains the goal.

Allen, 20, told MM: “Rio was always the main target for me.

“London was always going to be a bonus if I managed to qualify.”

She did qualify by placing second in the British trials in March and when it came to the Olympics finished in 21st position in the 200m individual medley.

Having competed at home games for her first Olympics Allen described the experience as remarkable.

“It was amazing to know that the people in the crowd were cheering for you,” she added.

“I saw so many famous athletes around the village and the Olympic Park.

“I found it all to be very exciting.”

Swimming received plenty of criticism for underperforming in London, with Team GB clinching just one silver and two bronzes, and Allen admitted they heard all about it during the Games.

Despite all the condemnation, it seems to have hindered Allen in her preparations for next year.

“I hope to qualify for the World Championships next summer but nothing has changed,” she said.

“I cannot get hold of people as I am trying to sort out my training programme.”

After competing all around the world in the recent FINA World Cup, Allen felt as if her hard work went unrewarded.

She finished fifth in the overall points standings, set a new English record and a handful of medals (two golds, four silvers and a bronze) but still received no outside help.

Nevertheless the resurgence of British female swimming in the past few years with the emergence of Rebecca Adlington, Keri Anne Payne and Hannah Miley has spurred Allen on.

“It is always good to have someone like Hannah to compete with,” said Allen.

“Lots of girls are now challenging for two spots in most events making the competition definitely more intense.”

This competition has seemed to help Allen this year as she received medals in the Moscow, Stockholm, Berlin and Tokyo legs of the 2012 edition of the FINA World Cup.

She set a new personal best time of 59.50 in the 100m individual medley on the way to winning gold in Tokyo, as well as an ‘unexpected massive’ PB in the 100m butterfly to secure silver plus clocked a new PB in the 200 IM in Berlin.

The highlight of Allen’s season – which goes through to the World Championship trials next April – came in the European Championships that took place in Debrecen, Hungary in May.

It took place only two months before the Olympics and with Allen still in hard training for the London games, she won a silver medal in her favoured 200m IM behind home favourite Katinka Hosszu.

Allen also faces a busy schedule during the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships which begins on December 12.

“I will be competing the 100 and 200 IM and the 100 and 200 Breast,” Allen stated.

“Despite the IM being my main event, I have always done the 100m breaststroke but have not done the 200m breaststroke since my hip operation in April 2010.”

Having had such a hectic timetable, Allen has yet to see an increase in participation due to the Olympics.

“I have not really been to any competitions since the Olympics to so what effect the Olympics has had,” she said.

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