Batchelor gets back up after London setback

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2013
Sophia Batchelor
Photosport
SCHOLARSHIP HOLDER: Sophia Batchelor has secured a four year scholarship to University of California, Berkeley.

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Sophia Batchelor thought her world had come crashing down last April.

For the previous four years, the Cantabrian's life had revolved around qualifying for the London Olympics, only to fall short of her dream by the slimmest of margins. In her favoured event - the 100m butterfly - Batchelor missed out on the Olympic qualifying standard by 0.01sec, the time it takes the average person to blink.

The revelation she had failed to qualify for London hit Batchelor - then in year 13 at Rangi Ruru Girls' School - hard. She was miserable and found it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning.

"There were five to six weeks where I didn't leave the house," Batchelor confessed to The Press.

"For four years previously, that had been the goal. I had it written on the wall in my room. Everything was aiming towards that. To miss out was devastating."

Batchelor began to realise there were two ways to respond to the setback. She could mope around feeling sorry for herself, or use the disappointment as motivation for the future. She chose the latter.

"It's one of those things that happens. You don't let it kill you," Batchelor said. "It's like that proverb, ‘a champion will fall down seven times and get up eight'. Yes, you get hit down. You need to learn something out of it and grow."

It's hard to believe Batchelor is still only 18. She is articulate, engaging, and speaks with a level of maturity that belies her youth.

She has enjoyed a stellar 2013, claiming the 50m and 100m butterfly, and 200m backstroke national titles at the New Zealand championships in late March.

Those efforts saw her gain selection in the New Zealand squad for the world long-course championships in Barcelona, from July 28-August 4. Batchelor will be racing in the 50m and 100m butterfly, as well as the 200m backstroke.

Her most satisfying accomplishment, however, was gaining a four-year sports scholarship to the prestigious University of California, Berkeley. She will begin her studies in August, after the world championships. Batchelor has also shattered several New Zealand short-course and long-course records over the past 12 months.

California is one of the United States' premier swimming schools. They have won three of the past four NCAA women's swimming titles, and have produced a stack of Olympic swimmers.

The women's swim team is coached by Teri McKeever, who was in charge of the United States women's squad in London. American swimming starlet Missy Franklin, who won four golds in London, has also committed to California, and will be racing alongside Batchelor.

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Batchelor's Christchurch-based coach Dave Prattley, her trainer for the past eight months, acknowledged he was proud of the way she had bounced back.

- The Press

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