Molly Renshaw boosts Olympic dreams with career best at European Championships

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Hopes that Selston swimming sensation Molly Renshaw can challenge for an Olympic medal this summer were boosted by a superb performance at the European Aquatics Championships.

Molly, who celebrated her 20th birthday earlier this month, reached the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke at the championships, held in London.

And she swam a personal-best time of two minutes, 23.18 seconds, a new English record, to come within a whisker of grabbing a bronze medal.

Getting off to a fast start, Molly led at 50m and also at 100m, reaching halfway in a tremendous 1:8.90. However, the eventual winner, world-record holder Rikke Moller Pedersen, from Denmark, surged past her in the next 50m on her way to bagging the gold medal in 2:21.69.

Spain’s Jessica Vall Montero took silver in 2:22.56, while Iceland’s Hrafnhildu Luthersdottir denied Molly third spot in the stretch for the wall, which she touched in 2:22.96.

It was all too agonisingly close for the former Ripley RASCALS star, but thorough confirmation that she is improving fast and fully deserving of her spot on the plane to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for this summer’s Olympics, which was confirmed before the London championships.

She stormed through the heats, winning in the fastest qualifying time of all (2:24.70) and clocked a similar time when finishing third in her semi-final, which safely saw through as one of the final eight.

Molly also declared herself “pleased” to reach the final of the 100m breaststroke, where she finished seventh in a time of 1:07.93, less than two seconds behind the winner, Ruta Meilutyte, of Lithuania

Molly’s heroic efforts followed her success at this year’s British Championships where she shaved three-tenths of a second off her previous best to claim a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke final. She was beaten only by teammate Chloe Tutton, but the Welsh teenager was one of the swimmers she beat in the European 200m final.

Molly’s selection for Rio has helped to gloss over the immense disappointment she felt when she was controversially omitted from the Team GB squad for the 2012 Olympics in London.

That year, she was crowned British 200m champion, but was not picked because her time was below the qualifying standard. She then managed to swim the required time at the Olympic trials, but was still snubbed because she didn’t win the race.

Going to the Olympics is “a dream come true” for Molly who will soon be back in full training for the Rio Games, which start on Friday, August 5.

“She’s very excited, but it’s a full-time commitment,” said proud mum Julie. “She’ll train two hours a day and then there are gym sessions each day, physio, nutritition and a lot of science involved.

“She got left behind four years ago, but she’s stuck at it and has showed she’s a strong character with a real determined streak.”