O’Connor has a mind to win a medal now
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor is the perfect example of how Bill Furniss has transformed the mindset of British Swimming.
Four years ago at London 2012, O’Connor was the youngest swimmer in Britain’s squad at 16 and, like many of her far more experienced team-mates, was a little girl lost in the swirl of bright lights and heightened public expectations.
“It was an absolute whirlwind,” says O’Connor who failed to advance from her 100m breaststroke heats. The difference under head coach Furniss is striking. There are no passengers in the 26-strong squad in Rio. At the British trials, the bar for qualification was raised several rungs so winners of some events missed out.
“It was one trials, one chance,” O’Connor said. “You had to deliver there and then.”
O’Connor begins her 200m individual medley campaign, in which she has won European silver and World bronze, today.
“I did not go to London purely for the experience but in hindsight that’s what I took away from it,” O’Connor said. “I am four years older, I am swimming quicker times and I do have goals in my mind.”
Unbeknown to her, O’Connor was competing at London 2012 while suffering ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition also suffered by Sir Steve Redgrave and former England rugby captain Lewis Moody. “Looking back, I have no idea how I managed that.”
The condition can leave her run down and susceptible to illness, but O’Connor said: “Everyone has challenges. This is just my thing I have to deal with.”
Setting an example: O’Connor is faster than when she competed at London 2012