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Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Thursday, 5 August 2010 15:44 UK
Rachael Kelly eyes Olympic Games 2012 swimming team
Rachael Kelly
Rachael Kelly has come back from triple knee surgery

A Staffordshire swimmer has got her sights set on making the British team for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sixteen-year-old Rachael Kelly, who trains at Newcastle's Jubilee Pool, is currently ranked fourth in Britain.

Her gold and two silvers at the European juniors has now made her one of the favourites for a medal at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in August.

It would cap an incredible comeback year for the teenager who had knee surgery after suffering a major injury.

"She actually damaged her leg playing football for the school team, and she had to have knee reconstruction. It may have been the end of her swimming career," said her father Tim Kelly.

"But after that operation in July she got back in the pool in November and she's come back stronger than ever," he added.

Gold and silver

The return to form and fitness was signalled when she touched the wall a 0.13 of a second faster then her opponents to win the 100 metres butterfly at the European Junior Championships in Helsinki.

She also won silver in the 200 metres butterfly and silver in the relay.

Rachael said: "When I was injured, competitive swimming seemed a long way away. I spent the whole of the summer holidays lying on my bed, not being able to go in the pool."

"It made me realise that I did want to swim, and I wanted to win," she added.

Drive and determination

It's that drive and determination which now has Rachael vying for a place on the podium at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore, which start on August 14.

She's competing in the 50m, 100m, and 200m Butterfly.

Rachael's hopeful it'll be a dress rehearsal for the real Olympic Games in London 2012.

Rachael Kelly
Rachael won gold and two silvers at the European Junior Games in Finland

"That's my dream - to be part of Team GB for the London games," she said.

"Female swimmers peak when they turn 18/19 years old and I'll be 18 for the Olympics. So hopefully these next two years will be key to my swimming," she added.

Rachael is going to boarding school in Wolverhampton to do her A Levels which will allow her to train with the Royal Wolverhampton Swimming Club, under the supervision of new coach Nathan Hilton.

But Rachael knows her Olympic ambitions won't come without sacrifices.

"At the moment I'm up at half four in the morning to go training, before going to school and then back to training after school's finished," she said.

"I also don't really have a social life or get to go out much but I'd rather get something out of my life than just party all the time and waste it," she added.




SEE ALSO
Swimmer Kelly wins European gold
19 Jul 10 |  Swimming

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