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UEL road to Rio: Aimee Willmott finishes seventh in Olympic final

Swimmers prepare for race

By Simon Hart

Aimee Willmott did the University of East London proud by reaching her first ever Olympic final with a powerful performance in the 400 medley individual medley in Rio on Saturday.

The sport and exercise science student produced the second fastest time of her life to touch home in 4min 34.08sec in her heat, booking her place in the final as the fifth quickest qualifier.

And she looked ready to challenge for a medal as she battled team-mate Hannah Miley for third place for the first 300 metres of the final, only to drop back in the closing stages.

The energy she spent in her heat clearly took its toll as she ended the race in seventh place in 4min 35.04sec – nearly a second slower than her heat swim.

After the race, a tearful Aimee said, “I’m a little but gutted I didn’t go as fast as the morning but this morning I had to give it everything to make sure I made it back in the final.

“But it’s my first Olympic final and to finish seventh, I shouldn’t really be disappointed with that.”

Aimee, who is a member of the London Aquatics Centre Performance Programme and trains in the London Olympic pool under coach Lisa Bates, made her Olympic debut at London 2012 but just missed out on the final.

She went into the Rio Olympics as the sixth fastest 400 metres IM swimmer in the world and a target of simply qualifying for the final.

She will back in the Rio pool on Tuesday when she competes in the heats of the 200 metres butterfly – an event in which she won the Commonwealth Games silver medal in Glasgow two years ago.