Swimming: Sexton eases through first test on road to Athens

Katy Sexton won the 100m backstroke at the British long-course championships here last night to remain on track for a couple of Olympic backstroke medals to add to the pair she won at last year's World Championships.

The 21-year-old from Ports-mouth won in 1min 1.16sec from Sarah Price, who clocked 1min 1.61sec. The championships here are doubling as the Olympic trials. Both women's times were good enough to seal places in the event in Athens. To make the British team for the Games, competitors need not only to come first or second in their events here but do so in a time that equals or betters the 12th fastest time in the world.

In Barcelona, Sexton took gold in the 200m - to become the first British female swimming world champion ever - and silver in the 100m. "Today was harder than World Championships because of the pressure to make the team," she said after last night's win.

Price was equally relieved to have qualified in the 100m but added that the 200m is where her energies will be channelled. The heats for the 200m start tomorrow with the final on Sunday.

Six other swimmers also secured tickets to Athens last night. Alison Sheppard qualified for a fifth Olympic Games of her career by winning the 50m freestyle in 25.23sec. The 31-year-old Glaswegian, who won Commonwealth gold in 2002 having finished seventh at the Sydney Olympics, was the only swimmer to meet the qualifying standard.

Ian Edmond and Chris Cook will both represent Britain in the men's 200m breaststroke after Edmond became the British champion in a time of 2min 11.87sec ahead of Cook in 2:12.87. James Gibson, who won a World Championship gold last year in the 50m breaststroke (a non-Olympic event), did not compete in the 200m here, preferring to focus on the 100m.

Todd Cooper, a 20-year-old from Stirling, and James Hickman, both qualified for the 100m butterfly by finishing first and second. Cooper's winning time of 52.46sec took 0.43sec off Hickman's British record mark.

But there will be no British representative in the women's 400m individual medley even though Rebecca Cooke's time of 4min 46.79sec broke Sharron Davies's 24-year-old British record by 0.04sec. Cooke was two seconds off the qualifying time.

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