Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne Payne

Keri-Anne Payne battled her way to a fourth place finish in the 10k Open Water race at the London 2012 Olympics.

I caught up with her to talk about the her whole Olympic experience from the race to the crowds and the legacy.

- The excitement over the Olympics has now started to die down so how would you sum up your whole 2012 experience when you look back on it now?

Well I’m not sure I am far enough away from it to look back on it just yet but the performance was not what I was looking for - the outcome I guess wasn’t what I was looking for.

I just think everything about the Games was brilliant and we did have the best Games as Team GB that we have ever had.

All of the crowds were fantastic and all of the Games Makers and armed forces were incredible and it really did make the Games.

So I think that I will probably remember how friendly and how excited everyone was about the Olympics.

- We saw you swimming in the Serpentine in the 10k Open Water so have you had a chance to look back over the race and what happened?

No not really. I am on a break at the moment and so there is pretty much no swimming chat until after the wedding when I can get back into things.

- You are only 24 so how much does this now spur you on for Rio - will we see you there in four years?

I am not sure as four years is a long time to commit to. I know that I am only twenty four but I have been doing fifty one weeks a year of training for the last twelve years and so in this sport I feel a little bit like a granny to be honest (laughs).

But we will just have to wait and see. I am excited for Rio and I just wish that it was happening sooner. So yeah we will wait and see how that goes.

- Would you ever consider getting back in the pool?

I do still swim on the pool I haven’t stopped - everyone thinks I have stopped - I just wasn’t quick enough to make the Olympic team this time. But I will definitely keep swimming in the pool.

- Everyone has been talking about the support that Team GB during the two weeks so how did you find the crowds in Hyde Park?

I thought they were absolutely fantastic and they really lifted me when I was swimming.

I could hear chants every now and again which was amazing; I wish I could have heard more of it but when you have ears full of water you sometimes don’t get to hear everything.

But they were absolutely incredible and I wish I could thank every single person that was there cheering for me.

- It was an incredibly physical and brutal race with lots of yellow cards handed out so just how difficult did you find it in the pack?

It was really tough as I am a lover not a fighter and that is kind of how it works for me.

I did find it difficult and I did find myself in a couple of situations that I have never really found myself in before but that is part and parcel of the sport and if you don’t want to do that then I guess you are in the wrong sport.

- How exciting was it to be part of a team that the whole country got behind - the venues were full, the free events were well supported and there were thousands watching on big screens ever day?

Yeah it was and it was incredible to have been part of such an amazing team.

What makes us such an amazing team is the brilliant support that we had from the British public - we really couldn’t have done without all of the support that we got from everyone.

Just to see everyone come down and the effect that the Olympics has had on the country and everyone is excited to get into sport and has Olympic blues.

But what is so great is that we have the Paralympic Games coming up as well as I am really looking forward to supporting our Paralympians

- Did you get out and about to the over Olympic venues to watch some of the action?

I didn’t because I swam so late on I just had to concentrate on training and things like that.

But I did go and see the athletics one night is was the night that Mo Farah won his second gold medal - so that was amazing.

- As you say your event was pretty late on so how difficult was it to keep your concentration on training while all of the success was happening?

I pretty much had to think of it as a different competition and that I was just watching something else on TV. I was enjoying every second of watching it and supporting people and getting behind their backs.

The legacy of the Olympics is what is going to make these Olympics even more special.

It is important to get people interested in sport and I have spoken to so many people who wouldn’t have watched the Olympics but have been totally hooked by it.

There are a whole host of different open water events that Speedo do around the country so it is great that people can get involved with things as well.

So we have to make sure that we keep the momentum and get people involved in all sorts of different sports and the legacy can continue to grow.

- These Games are all about inspiring a generation so what do you hope the Games will do for open water swimming and swimming in general in the UK?

We are just hoping to get people involved and excited. For me open water swimming is something that you can do as a family so we are trying get people involved and spending time together or with your friends.

So we are really trying to get people inspired to do sports and keep fit and healthy.

- Kids will want to be giving all forms of swimming a go so what advice would you give them?

I would say that if you are doing any open water swimming make sure you have done the research on where you are going and that it is a safe place to swim.

I recommend going with friends down to your local pool and enjoy everything that swimming has to offer.

- Team GB swim team perhaps didn't bring home as many medals as they would have hoped for but they did have a lot of swimmers in finals so what do you think needs to be done to turn those final spots into medals?

Over half of the team were rookies and so just them being here at the Olympics and getting into finals and semi-finals is the spur that they need.

Just the support from the public as well, I know that swimming didn’t necessarily have the meet that we thought we were going to have, and just keeping that support and momentum is going to be fantastic.

But on another note we definitely have to thank UK Sport for everything that they have done for us and all the funding that they have given us to get us to where we are today.

- Finally I know you are getting married very soon so how excited are you for that and getting some time away from training?

Yep can’t wait. I am really looking forward to the next couple of weeks as there are a lot of fun things happening and I get to spend some time with people that I don’t normally spend time with.

So I am really looking forward to all of this.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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