Olivia opens Olympic qualification bid

PUBLISHED: 17:28 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 22:09 26 October 2009

A FORMER Potters Bar synchro swimmer opened her bid for an Olympic spot in Beijing yesterday (Wednesday). Teenager Olivia Allison, from St Albans, and partner Jenna Randall began their journey to qualify for the synchronised swimming duet event in China.

A FORMER Potters Bar synchro swimmer opened her bid for an Olympic spot in Beijing yesterday (Wednesday).

Teenager Olivia Allison, from St Albans, and partner Jenna Randall began their journey to qualify for the synchronised swimming duet event in China.

The world's leading nations are competing in the 2008 Olympic Games Synchronised Swimming Qualification Tournament at the National Aquatics Centre, with all swimmers trying to book a return trip to the Olympics.

The Olympic duet qualification rules are somewhat complicated due to the large number of teams involved.

The eight countries and regions that have qualified for the team event will automatically be entered for the Olympic duet event.

The remaining 16 pairs will comprise the top ranked pair at the continental championships or continental games and the best-ranked pairs at this week's tournament, excluding those who have already earned Olympic berths.

With 32 pairs vying for more than 10 duet tickets, including world medallists Spain and Canada and world finalists Ukraine and Greece, the overall level of the tournament is high.

Randall and former St Albans schoolgirl Allison, 18, took to the pool yesterday in the duet technical routine and currently lie in 15th place after the first round with a score of 86.166.

After competing in the duet free routine tomorrow (Friday), 50 per cent of both marks will be taken and combined to give them their final score and placing.

A number of countries who have already booked their places are currently ranked above them and if Randall and Allison carry on in the form they are in they have an extremely strong chance of becoming Britain's first synchronised swimming entry at an Olympics since 1992.

National performance director Biz Price was happy with how the first stage has gone for the duet.

"I'm really pleased with how the girls have performed," said she.

"They were a little shaky during their practice, but they were settled as they went in to compete.

"With any technical routine, you will be punished harshly if your balance is slightly out or your vertical line drops, so it was important that Jenna and Olivia were able to control this before they went into the water."

With the first round out of the way, Britain's chances are promising.

"Everything is looking good for us," added Price.

"A number of duets will already have secured their place and with the team events still to come there will be others who make the grade, so our chances of making it are strong."

Britain's progress under Price has been remarkable and performances have improved since their outing at the European Championships last month.

"Many of the judges out here in Beijing have commented on the improvement the girls have made since the European Championships just three weeks ago, so the future is very promising," said Price.

The results of the duet competition on Friday will determine which teams will be required to swim a second free routine on Sunday to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in August.


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