Charlesworth qualifies for the Olympics

PUBLISHED: 17:45 08 April 2008 | UPDATED: 22:24 26 October 2009

Swimmer Richard Charlesworth celebrates qualifying for the Olympics

Swimmer Richard Charlesworth celebrates qualifying for the Olympics

HATFIELD swimmer Richard Charlesworth is on top of the world after booking his place at this summer s Beijing Olympics. The 19-year-old cemented his qualification for the Games on Sunday at the British Swimming Championships. Speaking to the WHTimes yes

HATFIELD swimmer Richard Charlesworth is "on top of the world" after booking his place at this summer's Beijing Olympics.

The 19-year-old cemented his qualification for the Games on Sunday at the British Swimming Championships.

Speaking to the WHTimes yesterday (Monday), the future Olympian from Herts said: "I'm on top of the world at the moment."

Charlesworth met the FINA A qualifying time for the Olympics in the men's 1,500m freestyle heats.

He took a huge 27 seconds off his personal best by clocking 15 minutes 9.97 seconds on Friday at the British Championships.

However, Loughborough University swimmer Daniel Fogg also met the required qualifying time.

With only one Olympics place up for grabs in the event, the winner of the final would take his place alongside already pre-selected Athens Olympic bronze medallist David Davies.

Fogg and Charlesworth were well matched throughout the final.

Going into the 1,300m mark, Charlesworth edged ahead and went into the last 100m with a two second lead.

He touched in a time of 15 mins 10.99 secs to take the gold medal and his place at Beijing.

"When I did the time in the heat I was surprised and then to replicate that in the final was great," he said.

"It spurred me on in the final having someone to race against and it put me on my game."

Richard, who competes for Hatfield Swimming Club, has been out of the country for two years at the British Offshore Centre in Australia.

As well as training in the pool, the talented swimmer has been competing in the open water endurance events, which can be as long as 10km.

Charlesworth believes these types of swims have helped him build up his strength for the much shorter pool competitions.

"It's definitely benefited me, the open water is a longer distance, and it's given me better stamina at the end of the race."

Prior to the British Championships, Charlesworth did not know if he could reach this summer's Olympics.

"I was not sure what to think. I swam in Sydney two months before the trials and did a slight PB.

"I knew I was capable of a faster time and hoping for it but wasn't very sure.

"After the trials I was more confident and started to believe in myself."

Richard added: "Making 2012 was my original aim, so there will not be as much pressure on me. This will be for the experience."

He and the experienced David Davies will represent GB in the men's 1,500m.

The two already know each other well. Charlesworth said: "I'm good friends with David. He came over to Australia from October to the New Year to train with me.

"He's a great role model for swimming, very professional and he's looking in great shape."

Ahead of the Games, Charlesworth will be competing in the World Open Water Championships in May and then focus on his Olympic preparation.

He'll be heading to a training camp in either Asia or Australia before then.

Charlesworth is sure of one thing before he heads to Beijing.

"I definitely need to improve my time from now until the Olympics," he said.

Olympians from Times Territory

SWIMMER Richard Charlesworth has become the second Times Territory sportsman to cement his place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He follows in the footsteps of Hatfield's teenage welterweight boxer Billy Joe Saunders in qualifying for the Games.

Fingers are crossed that at least two more hopefuls from the area can battle their way to Beijing.

Divers Ben Swain and Hayley Sage both have a chance of making it.

Former Monk's Walk School pupil Swain, alongside his 3m synchro partner Nick Robinson-Baker, has already qualified GB for a place in his event. Swain has to dive off for squad spot in June.

Similarly, Hertford girl Sage, a former Welwyn Hatfield Sports Awards winner, and her 3m synchro partner Tandi Gerrard have to dive-off for a place later in the year.

Both Sage and Swain started their diving careers with the Hatfield-based Beaumont Academy.

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