Team GB's Gemma Spofforth misses out on medal in 100 metres backstroke


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The Independent Online

Gemma Spofforth's hopes of adding an Olympic medal to her collection were dashed tonight when she finished fifth in the final of the 100 metres backstroke as American teenager Missy Franklin claimed the title.

The 24-year-old was a fingernail away from the podium when she finished fourth in Beijing and her task tonight was always going to be a difficult one.

The Florida-based swimmer has won world, European and Commonwealth medals but tonight it was a step too far for Spofforth.

She was never out of contention but ultimately she was 0.37secs off the podium as she finished in 59.20seconds.

A visit by Spofforth to the podium would have been a hugely popular result with the swimmer, who has endured a turbulent few years, universally liked and respected.

She lost her mother to cancer in December 2007 something which, by her own admission, she struggled with intensely.

A year after her fourth place in 2008, Spofforth won the world title in world record time with the European title the next secured in 2010.

However, she endured a difficult Commonwealth Games and then admittedly went into a slump which saw her defence of her world title in Shanghai end in the heats.

With little motivation, it was unclear whether Spofforth would even continue in the sport and it was not until the Olympic trials in March that her desire returned.

It was always going to be difficult and to come fifth is testament to her mental, as much as physical strength.