GEMMA Spofforth’s London 2012 Olympic disappointment in the 100m backstroke could well have been her last shot at a medal in the event.
The 24-year-old, who began her Swimming carreer in Littlehampton, had a shot at redemption on Monday night in the 100m backstroke final, having finished an agonising fourth in the same event at Beijing 2008.
However, Shoreham-born Spofforth, a former 100m world champion and world record holder in the event, couldn’t quite get the medal she so craved, and deserves, finishing fifth as Missy Franklin took gold.
It was a cruel blow for Spofforth, whose emotions have been pushed to breaking point over the past seven years, since she was struck down with pancreatitis in 2005.
She has had to cope with the death of her mother Lesley in 2007 and then her father’s partner in 2011 as well as sensational form combined with a lack of it that almost forced her to retire.
She still has the 4x100m medley relay to come in London, which begins on Friday, but refused to state whether she had swum her last individual 100m race.
She said: “I came in really wanting a medal, in 2008 I came fourth so fifth is a bit disappointing but I said all along it is about the journey not the destination.
“I have said that a lot of times already and for me it is really rekindling that love and finding something I am really passionate about and really happy about and having fun with life again.
“Two years ago, even one year ago, I was thinking about quitting swimming and to be in an Olympic final and fifth is really special. That could be my last 100m but the door is definitely wide open and I am loving swimming and we will just see what happens.”
Spofforth, whose father Mark owns a Worthing accountant company, clocked a time of 59.20 seconds to finish fifth in the 100m final, Franklin taking gold in 58.33 with Australia’s Emily Seebohm second and Japan’s Aya Terakawa third.
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