Siobhan-Marie O-Connor’s silver medal success in the Olympic pool at Rio is being celebrated today at her home swimming club in Keynsham and in her home village of Bitton.
The 20-year-old, who trains at the University of Bath, finished 0.3 seconds behind Hungarian world champion Katinka Hosszu in the women’s 200m individual medley to net Great Britain’s fifth medal of the Games.
Of her achievement, Siobhan-Marie said: “I am trying not to cry but it is the best feeling in the world.”
Her parents Sean and Lindsey and brother Ciaran , 18, were there to watch her while her friends from Keynsham Swimming Club, including her former coaches Thea Beament and Lynne Bartlett , were cheering her on in front of their TV sets at 3.30am this morning.
Siobhan-Marie started her career at Keynsham at the age of eight and is still a member of the club, fitting in visits in between her busy training schedule which sees her swimming for around 24 hours a week plus a similar number of hours spent in the gym.
Lynne, who has been coaching the juniors at the club for 27 years, said she knew from the start that Siobhan-Marie had something extra special about her and would win everything she entered. She said in those days her breast stroke was her weakest but now it is her strongest.
She said of her former pupil: “She is still a lovely girl, quite shy and very humble.”
Thea, who recently retired from coaching the seniors at Keynsham, coached Siobhan-Marie when she was 10 and 11 before she went off to train at the University of Bath.
She said: “She had a really good feel for the water. She would listen and learn and had a very supportive family. She is a very natural girl, very modest and unassuming and extremely talented.”
She said Siobhan-Marie was still very supportive of the club and a great inspiration for the youngsters coming up through.
And she is hopeful that Siobhan-Marie can do even better at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020: “It would be great to see her get gold in four years.”
In Bitton proud villagers have been posting messages of congratulations on the residents’ association’s Facebook and Twitter pages. One said: “Congratulations Siobhan, you’ve painted Bitton silver this morning.”
People have also posted messages of congratulations on our Facebook page. Debbie Saunders wrote: “Well done Siobhan-Marie, a brilliant swim, an inspiration to all young swimmers. Good luck for the rest of the Games.”
Siobhan-Marie has the chance of another medal in the women’s relay race.