Britain’s Olympic Hopefuls – Gemma Spofforth

Labour Party

Continuing with my series of profiles of British women at the Olympics, today I am writing about one of our greatest hopes for a medal this summer, the backstroke swimmer Gemma Spofforth.

Gemma was born in Shoreham-by-Sea, England.  A keen water baby, she began swimming at the age of three after encouragement from her parents. Her mother wanted her to get a head start in the pool so told her swimming teachers that she was two years older in order to get her in to a better class.

Gemma overcame pancreatitis in 2005, taking a year in and out of the water not sure whether or not to go on with swimming.  In the end she decided to continue and made her decision on where to attend university on whether or not she could continue swimming.

Gemma represented Great Britainat the 2008 Summer Olympics coming fourth in the 100-metre and ninth in the 200-metre backstroke swimming events.  She was very frustrated though in the 100-metre, as she missed out on an medal by just 0.04 seconds, leaving her fourth behind the USA’s Margaret Hoelzer.

At the 2009 World Aquatic Championships in Rome, she took the gold medal in the 100 metre backstroke, in a world record time of 58.12 seconds. Spofforth broke the 100-metre backstroke world record on her way to winning her first world title in Rome, her time of 58.12 erased previous record holder Anastasia Zuyeva time of 58.48 set in the semi finals of the event.

Gemma accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she enjoyed a huge amount of success, swimming with the Florida Gators swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) competition.

This summer will give Gemma the chance to prove herself and earn the Olympic medal she deserves.  She has mentioned how much she hates coming fourth because she hears it in her name; Spofforth.  I’m sure that will just be extra motivation for her to push on and claim her medal this summer.