Siobhan-Marie O'Connor

26/03/17 12:46pm

  1. A bronze medal in the 100IM European short-course championships was Siobhan's first senior international medal
    Image: A bronze medal in the 100IM European short-course championships was Siobhan's first senior international medal
  2. Siobhan O'Connor: Won 200IM gold at the British Gas International in Leeds this year
    Image: Siobhan-Marie O'Connor: Won 200m individual medley silver in Rio in 2016
  3. Siobhan is also a talented 100m breaststroker and competed in the London Olympics in this discipline
    Image: Siobhan is also a talented 100m breaststroker and competed in the London Olympics in this discipline
  4. It was also the 100m breaststroke that Siobhan swam in the 4x100m medley in London as Team GB reached the final
    Image: It was also the 100m breaststroke that Siobhan swam in the 4x100m medley in London as Team GB reached the final
  5. Siobhan qualified for the Great Britain team for the European Junior Championships at the age of just 14
    Image: Siobhan qualified for GB for the European Junior Championships at the age of just 14
  6. Siobhan-Marie O'Connor: One of four female Brits lining up for Team Europe
    Image: Siobhan has also swam in the United States for Team Europe
  7. Siobhan-Marie O'Connor takes in the views of Arizona in the US
    Image: Siobhan has been able to train in Arizona in the US
  8. Image: SSNHQ presenter Anna Woolhouse has been boosting Siobhan's career

<strong>WHO AM I?</strong>

I joined a family-run 'learn to swim' class when I was seven and after joining Keynsham swimming club, I really took to the sport. After moving through the groups I was soon competing.

Next up were the regional youth and age-group program at the University of Bath and I trained in this squad for four years with a variety of coaches. I won six national titles and qualified for my first European Junior Championships as the youngest member of the team at 14.

At the Bath ITC (intensive training centre) I became triple European Junior champion and qualified for the 2011 FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai. This was my first senior international meet and I made the semi-final in my favourite event, the 200m individual medley.

Top 5 achievements

  • Olympic silver medal in Rio (2016)
  • 6 x medals at Commonwealth Games, incl gold in 200Im & Games record (2014)
  • Commonwealth record holder 200Im, GB record holder 200Im, 100Breast
  • World Record 4x100 Mixed Medley Relay (2015)
  • Gold & bronze winner at World Champs in Kazan (2015)

OLYMPIC CHALLENGES

2012 was a great but challenging year. In my first Olympic trials, I wanted to make the team in the 200IM as I had done the year before for Worlds. I had a lot of nerves and I didn't know how to handle the occasion. I missed out in that event and both slots were filled.

I thought my Olympic dream was over but focused my efforts on the 100m breaststroke and at the second trials I qualified as the youngest swimmer on the GB team.

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor: One of four female Brits lining up for Team Europe
Image: Siobhan has also swam in the United States for Team Europe

Sometimes things happen for a reason and I managed after the heats to be ranked No 1 in the breaststroke in the country which, subsequently, enabled me to swim in an Olympic final in the relay. The disappointment of not qualifying first time round taught me a lot and really toughened me up.

Since the 2012 Games, I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which I'd had for the previous 18 months but went undiagnosed. Since being on the right medication and being able to keep a healthy body and weight, I have felt lots better.

Rio was an amazing Games for me. I just missed out on gold in the 200m individual medley final after setting a new British record.

HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED YOU?

It's been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am very lucky, proud and honoured to have been selected to represent and be supported by Sky Sports as one of their Scholars. It has been amazing to be part of such a great group of athletes.

Sky are such a huge brand in the world of sport so to be associated with them and to have their support with so much to offer is incredible.

Since the programme started, I have become friends with the other Scholars and we are able to follow each other's journeys and share our stories and experiences.

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor takes in the views of Arizona in the US
Image: Siobhan has been able to train in Arizona in the US

Last year we had cycling day organised by Sky where Sir Chris Hoy taught us how to ride around the track and also delivered a hugely inspiring talk. I feel so lucky to have been there.

I've also been able to improve my interview techniques and communication skills through one-on-one lessons with some of Sky's leading mentors. This is an area, which is massively important in our lives and without Sky's help, we wouldn't have been given this support.

With the financial support, I was able to attend altitude training camps in the lead-up to big competitions, I was able to travel to international competitions and race the best in the world. I had everything I needed to stay healthy - nutrition and supplements - and I was able to buy all the training and racing equipment I needed.

It meant I've been in the best physical state and mental state knowing I had been able to do everything right to get the best performance out of myself.

Image: SSNHQ presenter Anna Woolhouse has been boosting Siobhan's career

MENTOR BOOST

My mentor is Anna Woolhouse who is a SSNHQ presenter. I have got to know Anna and see first hand the commercial side of sport and what she does. It is so exciting and definitely something I would be interested in pursuing after my swimming career.

Being a Scholar has also boosted my profile which is great for me but also for swimming.

I am very passionate about swimming and I love my sport. I feel very strongly that it is a vital life skill and I would love to see a rise in participation and in more children leaving school with the ability to swim 25m.

I think being associated with Sky gives me a platform to hopefully put my message out there and hopefully inspire some people to take up swimming and hopefully enjoy it as much as I have.