London 2012: Keri-Anne Payne defends Olympic venue

World open water champion sticks up for London's Serpentine following criticism from some competitors

keri-anne payne
Payne was the first British athlete to secure qualification for next year's Olympics

keri-anne payne

Keri-Anne Payne – the first British athlete to secure qualification for next year’s Olympics – has defended the London 2012 open water swimming venue.

Payne won the world title in Shanghai to book her Team GB slot but missed the Olympic test event in London’s Serpentine, where some competitors moaned about cold water temperatures and the proximity of the lake’s famous swans.

But Payne believes the venue is spot on.

“It’s Britain – it rains, it’s a bit colder but the water temperature is an average 21 degrees and that is perfect for competition,” she told national press agency Sportsbeat.

“Besides, when you are swimming for two hours it’s not a bad thing if the water is a little bit chillier.

“We’ve all swum in terrible places, in contrast to some that I remember the Serpentine is like a swimming pool.”

Payne was speaking at the launch of a new scheme in which families of next year’s British Olympic and Paralympic team are set to be given advice on how to handle the unique pressures of their ‘nearest and dearest’ competing at a home Games.

Olympic sponsor Proctor and Gamble is supporting the campaign with a series of roadshows staged for families around the country, and will also ensure every athlete’s parents will be provided one free pair of tickets to watch their son or daughter at the Games.

In addition, athletes will also be able to purchase two tickets for every session they compete in – under London 2012’s unique competitor ticket scheme launched earlier this year.

“We all remember the Beijing Games when a number of athletes could not get tickets,” said British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt.

“We are doing all we can to prevent that and also ensure the family have operational support.

“Friends and family have made a huge investment in the Olympics.”

Olympic silver medallist Payne, whose mother Patricia failed to get tickets to watch her compete at the World Championships in Rome, where she also won gold, added: “It’s going to be brilliant as an athlete.

“The number one pressure is to make sure that friends and family get tickets so you can then concentrate on competing.”

© Sportsbeat 2011

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