AYLESBURY will have an athlete competing at the London 2012 Olympics after Craig Gibbons qualified to represent Team GB.
Gibbons, a former Bucks Herald Sports Personality of the Month award winner, becomes the first Maxwell Swim Club member to represent Great Britain at an Olympics for 20 years.
The amazing achievement came at The British Gas Championships and Olympic trials staged at the impressive Aquatics Centre in East London.
In the 100m freestyle semi-final, Craig had a strong swim with great speed, technique and power, qualifying for the finals.
Then it was all down to who wanted it the most and Craig stepped up to the block and qualified for the Team GB Olympic 100m freestyle team finishing the finals in third position in a time of 49.49s behind Simon Burnett (49.33s) and James Disney-May (49.48s).
What makes the 26-year-old’s efforts all the more impressive is the fact that of the top four – Adam Brown finished in fourth position – he is the only one who is a club swimmer, with the rest training in the US.
Gibbons said: “Qualifying for the Olympic Games has been my dream since I started swimming at the age of eight.
“Finally some 18 years later, I’ve achieved that childhood dream and I couldn’t be any happier with that.
“A massive thank you to all the support I’ve received from Maxwell and other people across the country.”
For Maxwell, next up was the 50m freestyle event, where Craig’s team mate Liam O’Brien, 15, set a new Junior County Record and personal best in the 50m Free with 24.93.
Meanwhile, David Godridge, 18, a set a new pb of 23.31s, narrowly missing out on the semi-finals in 17th position.
Gibbons then swam a pb which eclipsed his 2009 effort from the ‘shiny suits era’ in a time of 22.41s, a new Senior County Record which ranked him fastest for the final.
The finals loomed and all his supporters from the club were watching it at home and results were beamed onto the wall via a projector at Maxwell’s Aqua Vale base.
Expectations were high and the tension was like no other occasion in his career to date.
And Craig did not disappoint finishing in second position with great style gaining a silver medal in a time of 22.56s behind Adam Brown on 22.48s.
It is not over for Gibbons, though, there is still an opportunity to qualify for the individual 50m freestyle and the 100m freestyle Olympic events in June at the second stage trials, the Senior Nationals and he will now be working hard with Maxwell’s head coach Kevin Brooks to achieve this.
Speaking about Gibbons’ achievements, head coach Brooks said he had also realised a dream through the swim star.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Craig has managed to achieve his dream; indeed its always been my dream as a coach, to place a swimmer on to an Olympic team.
“The fact that this is an Olympic Games in our own country makes it a once in a lifetime experience for Craig – it’s now his goal to perform at his absolute best this summer.
“It’s been a massive team effort, helped along the way by all the coaches that have coached him through his career so far; particularly Vic Green and Janko Gojovic – they both deserve a lot of credit too, for their hard work at Maxwell when Craig was only a young teenager.
“It just goes to show that with determination, hard work and sticking to a plan you can reach your goal.”
The Bucks Herald will bring you all the latest on Craig’s preparations.