Benson dreaming of breastroke final

When Craig Benson capped a fine 2011 with a fourth medal in the pool at the Commonwealth Youth Games he admitted there was a mere possibility that he would reach the London 2012 Olympics.


He had already finished second at the European Junior Championships and then won silver and gold and the world equivalent – while three golds and a silver were garnered at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Yet it was perceived that a combination of Michael Jamieson, Kris Gilchrist and Andrew Willis would secure the Olympic places on offer in the 100 metre and 200 metre breaststroke events.

And there was weight behind the perception too for all three had swam at the World Championships that year, with Jamieson a believer that the finals in Shanghai wouldn’t differ greatly in London.

So when Benson, who made his senior British debut at the European Short Course Championships in December, arrived in London in March for the Olympic trials, he wasn’t expected to qualify.

He was still confident though and those perceptions were proved wrong with Benson trumping Jamieson, Gilchrist and Willis to take 100m silver behind Dan Sliwinski and secure a Games place.

Benson couldn’t repeat the trick in the 200m, he didn’t even make the final, but it mattered little and taking his rise team into account he could end with the medal that he is aiming for.

“It is pretty much every athlete’s dream to compete at an Olympic Games and it makes it even more special that it’s a home Games,” said Benson.

“To have 17,500 people cheering you on will be really exciting – I have never experience anything like it and I am going to aim as high as I can.

“I am going to aim for a medal but getting into the final would be a great achievement – to qualify for the Games was a massive achievement.

“But there are a lot of areas where if I work on them I can improve my times. I am working hard at that and I think I am coming along nicely.”

The Benson we see now is a far cry from the six-year-old that contemplated quitting the sport after getting disqualified from his first ever race.

Indeed he struggled with motivation through his formative years but a realisation at 15 that hard work does pay off put him on track to where he is today.

He added: “I took a little break after the trials but I was soon back in the pool and it has been hard training for me up until this point.”

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