London Spy

British medal hopes: Fran Halsall

London Spy

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Halsall wins 50m free at the 2012 British Championships

Fran Halsall is well aware that she will need to produce the performance of her life if she is to realise her dream of winning an Olympic gold medal on home soil.

And in a sport where margins are so fine, the freestyle and butterfly swimmer, who will be 22 by the start of the Games, is within touching distance of fulfilling her goal.

At the 2011 World Championship in Shanghai, Halsall was the fastest qualifier for the 100 metres freestyle final. However, in the final itself, Halsall finished fourth despite coming in just 0.3 seconds behind the winner.

The Loughborough swimmer, who at 5ft 7in is considerably shorter than most of her rivals, has to play 'catch-up' when she dives into the pool.

Owing to her shorter frame, she concedes the lead at the start of her races and relies on her explosive pace in the water to challenge those at the front.

The challenge for Halsall is to find the consistency required to add an Olympic gold medal to her already-extensive collection of honours.

She won silver medals in the short and then long course competitions at the World Championships in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Then in 2010 she became the most successful British swimmer at a European Championships ever with two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze. Another gold medal followed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, along with three silvers and a bronze.

Backed by a home crown, Halsall will have the perfect opportunity to edge ahead of her rivals in the 100m freestyle in London.

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