WORLD record holder Gemma Spofforth has vowed to treat her World Championship disaster as a wake-up call after crashing out of the 100m backstroke heats in Shanghai.
Spofforth – who set one of 43 new records at the 2009 worlds in Rome when the subsequently outlawed polyurethane suits sent times tumbling – trailed home 23rd overall in 1min 01.89sec.
The Portsmouth Northsea ace, who considered walking away from the sport earlier this year, was struck down by food poisoning on the eve of the competition and never looked like defending her crown.
Yet while the sickness clearly had an impact on her physical well-being, Spofforth admits her motivation to regain number one status is also proving elusive.
‘I’ve had a bad couple of days. I was quite sick on Saturday night and didn’t eat much,’ said Spofforth, who has benefited from a British Gas powered holding camp in Osaka.
‘I don’t just put it down to that. I’ve had a bit of a bad year and I’m not feeling quite so motivated, so hopefully this week will give me a kick up the butt to get me motivated for next year.’
Spofforth dedicated her victory in the Eternal City two years ago to her mother, who died of cancer in 2007, while the 23-year-old has also had to cope with the death of her dad’s new partner to the disease in March.
The European champion also saw her season disrupted when she was forced to return to Britain while she awaited her green card to continue working as a counsellor in the USA.
Yet, despite coming into the World Championship off the back of an incredibly difficult year – and being tested further still by illness – Spofforth insisted she was still hoping for more.
‘It never crossed my mind not to race,’ added Spofforth.
‘I thought I would be a little more mentally tough than that.
‘I was thinking I’d got rid of everything in my stomach the night before the race so I thought I’d be at racing weight!
‘I didn’t really have it in me. I was hoping to be a little more mentally tough but it just wasn’t to be.
‘There are boards all around and you can see yourself.
‘I looked up at 75m and saw myself further behind and I tried to pick it up and it just wasn’t happening.
‘This year has just been a bit of a rough year all round.’
n British Gas is supporting the British Gas GBR Swimming Team to win more gold medals, as part of its partnership with the sport at all levels. For more information visit britishgas.co.uk/swimming