WORLD silver medallist Fran Halsall has backed West Sussex star Gemma Spofforth to use the pain of her 2010 disappointments to fire her to World Championship glory this month.
After the highs of being crowned world 100m backstroke champion in 2009 in Rome Spofforth was, by her own standards, off-colour last year.
The Commonwealth Games in India ws top of the to-do list in 2010 and while she bagged three medals, the fact none of them was gold clearly riled Spofforth.
Top of the agenda for 2011 is this month’s World Championships in Shanghai as Spofforth – an Olympic finalist from 2008 whose family are from Slindon - looks to defend her 100m crown.
And Halsall believes the painful memories of last year will give Spofforth all the motivation she needs to power to gold when the Shanghai event gets underway on July 16.
“Gemma is a great competitor and definitely one of the best British competitors we have on the team,” said Nestle Get Set Go Free Campaign ambassador Halsall.
“I don’t think I have ever met anyone with as great mental strength as Gemma has and that is one of her really big strengths.
She performed amazingly well at the last World Championships winning gold out in Rome and I know that, after last year and the Commonwealth Games she will want to win the world title again.
“Not winning gold at the Commonwealth Games – she was really, really angry about it and so I am sure she will want to go out to Shanghai and put in some really good swims.”
Spofforth and Halsall are just two members of the Girl Power movement which is overtaking GB women’s swimming at present.
Recent reports have suggested as many as 21 Brits will make their respective finals in Shanghai, and that 19 of those berths will be taken up by girls.
And Halsall believes Spofforth might just be the shining light for the female swimming takeover.
“There are so many girls right now that are in the frame to do well at the World Championships and then at the Olympics next year in London,” added Halsall.
“And Gemma is right up there with the best of them.”
* Fran Halsall is delighted to be supporting Nestle’s Get Set Go Free Campaign that allows families to try lots of different sports this summer for free. See www.getsetgofree.com.
Watch the video to see an interview with Fran Halsall.