Dawson Returns As Morgan Takes Down Tancock’s 2009 British Mark, Marshall Making It 3 Backstrokers Bound For Paris

2024-04-03 Reading Time: 6 minutes
Oliver Morgan, photo courtesy of Aquatics GB
Oliver Morgan, photo courtesy of Aquatics GB

Olympic champion Kathleen Dawson, Oliver Morgan and Jonathan Marshall added more fire and ambition to Britain’s Medley Relay hopes at Paris 2024 a day after Adam Peaty‘s 57.94 breaststroke blast, all three 100m backstroke speedsters inside the Olympic target time on day 2 at the British Championships and trials in London.

Kathleen Dawson and Oliver Morgan - British backstroke champions and record holders with a ticket to the Paris Olympics in their bags - images courtesy of Aquatics GB / Channel 4
Kathleen Dawson and Oliver Morgan – British backstroke champions and record holders with a ticket to the Paris Olympics in their bags – images courtesy of Aquatics GB / Channel 4

Morgan gave warning of his growing stature in heats with a 52.87 punch just shy of Liam Tancock’s 52.73 from shiny suited Rome 2009 world titles. In the final, coach Gary Humpage‘s University of Birmingham charge was out in 25.47, 0.41sec ahead of Carnegie’s US-based Marshall, with Olympic 200m medallist Luke Greenbank in seventh on 26.51.

Battle boiled in the home chase, Morgan’s 27.23 holding off Marshall’s 27.15 for 53.03, Greenbank roaring through the field for the bronze in 53.82, his medley relay days over but his 200m prospects alive and kicking three years after Olympic bronze in Tokyo and silver in the medley relay.

Morgan emerged to say he felt “a lot of emotion”, adding: “We’ve done a lot of hard work. It’s been really tough but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. To come away with a British record as well… it’s been in the works for a while. We’ve been dropping time every time I swim, basically.”

There’s just the one Ollie Morgan, the ‘we’ for Humpage, family and others who have supported and guided the new British backstroke champion to this, his first Olympic selection.

Asked about the trail of experience and personal growth, Morgan said:

“I just love racing, you know. As Adam [Peaty, yesterday] said, people can shrink in the arena. I kind of come alive. I love it. I love racing. It’s nice to have a load of fans. My family and everyone supporting at home. Gary and the Uni of Birmingham – it wouldn’t be possible without them.

“You can’t really put it into words. If you asked me two years ago whether I’d be in this position, I’d have gone “there is no way”. But there’s not been a single blip in my training for that entire period, it’s been dedication every day, and it’s a credit to what we do at the University of Birmingham.

“The group that we’ve got, it works so well. Gary Humpage, my coach, he’s been amazing, he has a really good connection with me, and it’s clearly working. We played around with things, training and everything, I went away to Mel’s group [Mel Marshall, Peaty’s mentor] to Thailand in January, and it’s worked really well. I certainly can’t complain with the times today, two 52s times in a day and a British record at the end of it.”

Oliver Morgan – Image: Morgan acknowledges this who helped him on the voyage to Olympic selection as a national record holder

On making the Olympic team, Morgan added:

“It means everything. The last few months leading up to this, it has been feeling what the emotions were going to be like on the day if you make, seeing how proud my family would be, they’re here.

“You can’t put it into words how it feels, it’s a dream come true.

I’ve got a big WhatsApp group with lots of different family and friends, they’re supporting me on there when I’m racing, and having all those people behind me.”

Oliver Morgan

Greenbank, who has helped Britain and England to a number of international 4x100m medley podiums, returned to the 53-second mark for the first time since 2022 and was delighted to be on the right path towards his target event later this week. “Really happy with that, just looking forward to the 200 now. That’s given me a bit of confidence. Bring it on.”

The backstroke guard of the medley relay now passes to Morgan and Marshall, one a 52sec swimmer, national champion and record holder, the other on the cusp of joining his soon-to-be TeamGB mate, BOA confirmation pending, in Paris and in the club of Olympians.

Dawson Back On Backstroke After Back Troubles

Its a thumbs up from Kathleen Dawson, top right, after she claimed a ticket to the Paris Olympics as national 100m backstroke champion - image courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4
Its a thumbs up from Kathleen Dawson, top right, after she claimed a ticket to the Paris Olympics as national 100m backstroke champion – image courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4

An emotional Kathleen Dawson celebrated her return to the Olympic team with a 59.74 triumph, off a lead half-way split of 28.76 as sole sub-29er in the race.

It’s been a long road to recovery for Dawson after two seasons out with a back injury and then recovering from that and working her way back to national-champion status just in the nick of time for Olympic trials.

The University of Stirling ace is back in business for the Paris Games three years after helping the national shoal to gold in the mixed medley relay in Tokyo. While she never held a decisive lead in the final this evening, she looked like a winner throughout in a race that ended with Loughborough teammates Lauren Cox, 1:00.13, and Honey Osrin, 1:00.58, completing the podium.

Dawson, a former European champion who holds the national record at a sizzling 58.08, looked forward to making further gains ion the clock on the way to Paris:

Kathleen dawson

I’m unbelievably grateful for the people that have got me back to this point. It has been a big test of believing in myself and my mental character, I guess. There were a lot of times that I could’ve just chucked it in, been like, ‘I’ve got a gold medal at the last Olympics, I don’t need to carry on’. But that’s not what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to get back to this place, so I’m so thankful that I can actually be here, post times like that and qualify for the Olympics.

“The dream would be to be back on that Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay, and with the times I’ve been posting, I’ve been improving each time it comes to a tapered meet over the last year and a half, so I’m looking forward to what the next cycle will bring.

Kathleen Dawson – image courtesy of Aquatics GB/ Channel 4

On other finals…

Women’s 1500m Freestyle: Amelie Blocksidge A National Champ at 14

Amelie Blocksidge, 14, British 1500m champion - image courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4
Amelie Blocksidge, 14, British 1500m champion – image courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4

Amelie Blocksidge is a national champion at 14 years of age and, yes, the Salford SC swimmer, at 16:13.39, is swifter that the great Katie Ledecky was back in 2011 at the same age. The American’s best of 16:24 was axed back to 15:49 by the time she raced the 1500m again at 16, a year after she claimed Olympic 800m gold in the same London 2012 Olympic pool.

That was Ledecky’s first stroke of many en route to a living-legendary status that is likely to include a shot at retaining the 1500m Olympics title in Paris this summer three years after the event made its Games debut for women.

There was no (automatic) ticket to Paris for young Blocksidge but she celebrated a big personal best and experience that will feed into the bright future she appears to have ahead of her.

“I wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on myself … I just went in there to do my best and determined to be the best I can be,” she said, having just done that by wiping 10 seconds off her previous high.

The podium was completed by Fleur Lewis, of Loughborough in 16:17.36, and teammate Lucie Banquet, on 16:35.92.

Men’s 200m butterfly: Joshua Gammon Takes Gold In 1:56 Lifetime Best

Thomas Gammon, British 200m butterfly champion – image courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4

Joshua Gammon, of Bath University, clocked a lifetime best for victory in a dominant 1:56.94, through splits of 25.75, 55.41 and 1:25.91. He led from go to gold ahead of Thomas Beeley, of the Performance Centre at the University of Aberdeen, an old stomping ground for me, his 1:59.65 keeping Henry Gray at bay, the Chelsea & West swimmer on 2:00.97. The Paris cut was a couple of seconds too far for the new champion, at 1:54.97.

Women’s 200m breaststroke: Kara Hanlon Takes Crown In 2:24.5

Katie Hanlon, British 200m breaststroke champion – courtesy of Aquatics GB/Channel 4

Kara Hanlon, of the University of Edinburgh, trailed Lizzie Booker for three of the four lengths before nudging ahead for a 2:24.59 to 2:25.75 victory. The Paris cut was ahead of them at 2:23.04 but neither of the top two were despondent, having given it their best on the day, Booker all the more pleased because she had returned to 2:25 form in early spring of a year that began with a bout of glandular fever. The bronze went to last year’s champion Gillian Davey, Loughborough, in 2:26.25.

Trials Information

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