Katie Dawkins praises family after her Olympic call-up
Bristol synchronised swimmer Katie Dawkins paid tribute to her family after it was confirmed that she will fulfil a long-term ambition of competing at the Olympic Games.
Dawkins, 23, was this week named in the nine-strong Great Britain squad to compete at London 2012.
It is reward for leaving her Keynsham home to train full-time with the team at their Aldershot headquarters almost five years ago. The squad was announced on Tuesday afternoon, after which Dawkins was immediately in touch with her mum, Karen, and dad, Duncan, who won two gold medals and a silver for England in weightlifting at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, to share her delight.
"My family were over the moon, especially my dad," said Dawkins. "He is really excited for me as he has represented his country in a major international competition, so knows what it is all about.
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"I couldn't have done any of it without the help of my family. My mum gave up a lot of time taking me to swimming club when I was little and it is something I've always appreciated. I hope that going to the Olympics will be some reward for them for the work they have put in to help me achieve my dream.
"It is really starting to hit home now that I'm actually going to be there. It is something we as a team we have been working towards for the last four-and-a-half years. To be in the squad and preparing for London in less than three months time is really exciting.
"Competing at an Olympic Games has been my ambition for several years, but it only really became a distinct possibility when I moved away from Bristol to train full-time in Aldershot four years ago."
Synchronised swimming events are scheduled to take place at the National Aquatics Centre on Sunday, August 5, and Dawkins added: "We're aiming for a top-six finish because really we're looking at 2012 as a stepping stone for Rio in four years time.
"We're a really young squad, so our time for Olympic medals will be when 2016 comes around. We're also hoping to make the sort of progress that will see us challenge the top nations at the World Championships over the next few years.
"Our main rivals right now are Italy, Ukraine and USA; those are the teams we're looking to overtake in the short-term.
"Then we want to step it up to close the gap between us the world's top three – Russia, Spain and China – by the time we're close to going to Brazil."
Dawkins and the rest of the team continue their build-up with an appearance at the European Championships in Eindhoven on May 15. They go to Holland with hopes to improve on their eighth-placed finish at the test event last month.
"The test event was a great success for us as a squad," said Dawkins. "To get the chance to sample the atmosphere inside the Aquatics Centre was fantastic."
The team, meanwhile, has enlisted the services of Bristol-born 1980 Olympics figure-skating gold medallist Robin Cousins to aid their London 2012 bid.
"It has been great working with Robin," said Dawkins. "He's helped us with some aspects of our routines."
Whilst there was joy for Dawkins, their was also some disappointment for fellow squad member and Bristolian Anya Tarasiuk, 18, from Downend, who narrowly missed out on a place in the Olympic team.
"It is unfortunate for Anya," said Dawkins. "London, however, is a stepping stone for this squad and Anya's time will definitely come."