Andrew Willis became only the fifth British swimmer to automatically seal their place at the Rio Olympics when he stormed to victory in the 200 metres breaststroke final on Friday.
Willis overcame a blistering first 100 metres from Adam Peaty, the world champion at that distance, to set a lifetime best of 2 min 08.08 sec in the British Championships here at the Tollcross Swimming Centre. Having come fourth at last year’s World Championships, Willis can now be ranked alongside Peaty as a realistic British medal hope at Rio.
“It is such a strong field which has been a curse this week and it will hopefully be a blessing come the Olympics,” Willis said. “To make the Olympics you have to go above and beyond and that’s what I have done this year. It is such a huge relief.”
Willis’s emotions contrasted sharply with the anguish of Michael Jamieson, who won silver at London 2012 but had to settle for fifth place here and was left contemplating retirement.
“The last couple of years have been horrible but I wasn’t even in it,” the 27-year-old said. “I was pretty nervous this morning because this is it for me. I don’t want to go out like this.”
Elsewhere, there were victories for Siobhan-Marie O’Connor in the 100m freestyle, as well as freestyle specialist James Guy in the 100m butterfly and Elizabeth Simmonds in the 200m backstroke, although none was within the automatic qualifying time for Rio.