THE NED PAYNE COLUMN: Nothing but sympathy for Jazz
1:30pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in Latest News
NO ONE, no matter how hard-hearted you are, could fail to sympathise with the story of Swindon swimmer Jazz Carlin.
A former pupil of Wootton Bassett School, Carlin’s dream was to compete at London 2012.
There was no doubt she was good enough. The freestyle specialist won silver and bronze at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and had the qualifying times in her locker.
However, the ex-Swindon Tigershark suffered with glandular fever, tonsillitis and general illness, meaning her training was hugely disrupted.
The end result was that she was out of contention at both sets of Olympic trials and was left to cope with the disappointment during a summer in which London 2012 was everywhere.
Carlin eventually competed in the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul in December, but had to wait until last weekend for her homecoming gig, the British Gas International Meet in Leeds.
Effectively functioning as an early-season British Championships, for most swimmers the meet was an important one. For Carlin, it was even bigger.
That much was in evidence when the 22-year-old struggled to contain her emotions after storming to the 800m free title at the John Charles Centre for Sport.
Nervous beforehand, the mental release was clearly in evidence after she touched the wall first in what was a personal best and a Welsh record.
Carlin immediately rushed straight over to embrace her Swansea ITC coach Bud McAllister, and then held back the tears - just about - in her poolside interview.
The Swindonian subsequently went on to win gold in the 1500m and the 400m, the former in another Welsh record, and ended the meet as the joint-most decorated swimmer.
As she admitted afterwards, events at the John Charles Centre for Sport could not have gone any better.
Carlin’s story is one of disappointment and redemption, and while the second phase has only just begun, World Championship trials in June afford another chance to heal the wounds left by 2012.
Judging by her results in Leeds, which can only have brought about by sheer hard work on both the part of her and McAllister, Carlin is ready to mix it on the world stage once more.
Whether you are a fan of swimming or just sport in general, it’s terrific to see.