Halsall storms to shock 100m freestyle silver at World Swimming
SHE said she was too skinny to compete but Fran Halsall proved that you should never doubt her blonde ambition.
DISBELIEF: Fran Halsall is lost for words as she surpasses all expectations to capture 100m freestyle silver in Rome
Because when it comes to competing with the bigger girls, Halsall can certainly punch above her weight.
The 19-year old has long been viewed as a talent to watch but even British team officials were shocked as she stormed to a surprise silver medal in the 100m freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in Rome.
Halsall also secured a massive personal best and British record, cracking through the 53-second barrier for the first-time ever as she touched home in 52.87 seconds.
Germany’s Britta Steffen – an unfair match for the diminutive Halsall in an arm wrestle - took gold and lowered her own world record in 52.07 secs while Australia’s Libby Trickett claimed bronze, just six hundredths behind the fast-finishing Halsall.
Team-mates will say that Halsall is rarely lost for words, she gabbles quicker than she swims, but the performance even left her speechless.
“I can’t believe what I have done, what a fantastic feeling,” she said.
“It was an amazing race to be in. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry – I just can’t stop giggling, everything is just making me laugh.
“I wasn’t even ranked in the top three coming here – I think I was sixth. I knew I was going well because I have been training amazingly all year and I just came here and gave it my best shot.
“When I looked up and saw 52.8 and it didn’t believe it. I just can’t get over it – a world silver medal”
When Rebecca Adlington won her first gold in Beijing, she talked excitedly about being rewarded with a pair of Christian Louboutin high heels.
But Halsall will buy herself a puppy to celebrate – and call it Roma.
“I was told if I got a medal I could get a puppy,” she said.
“I already have one called Dil so now they will get some company.”
Meanwhile, Steffen hailed her performance as almost perfection.
"I'm very surprised for this race, it was almost perfect. I was not very fast at the beginning but this was my tactics," she said.
"I didn't look at the others. I had a mental picture of this race and focused on myself all the time."
Halsall was just 16 when she missed out on a medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Since then he career has charted a consistent upward curve, with last year’s Olympic final – in which she finished eighth – the highlight. That was until tonight.
“I knew last year at the Olympics that things were a bit too soon for me because I wasn’t doing as much in the gym,” she added.
“But I have been hammering away since and getting a little bit bigger, so hopefully in the next couple of years it will come and I will be able to best the fastest swimmer in the world as well.”
And Halsall hasn’t finished yet – she’ll be targeting another medal in Saturday’s mad splash 50m freestyle.