Hackney swimmer a step closer to Beijing 2008

Hackney’s Paralympic swimming champion Dervis Konuralp has come a step closer to competing at Beijing 2008 – and set a new British record at the same time.

Dervis swam 100m butterfly in a record time of 01:02.48 (one minute, two seconds and 48 hundredths of a second) at the first of two trials to qualify for Team GB.

The 27-year-old athlete, who trains at the London Fields Lido and Clissold Leisure Centre, will swim at a second set of trials at the end of the month (April) and hopes to find out at the beginning of May whether he’ll be going to Beijing.

Dervis, who has lived in Hackney all his life, was inspired by London becoming the host for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to go for his dream of bringing back a gold medal from Beijing.

He is Hackney’s first Olympic and Paralympic ambassador, visiting schools and events across the borough to inspire young people to get involved in sports and other physical activities.

Dervis, who has a visual impairment, has two bronze Paralympic medals and 35 international competition medals.

He said: “It is my ultimate ambition to bring back the ‘big G’ (gold) from the Paralympics. I’m continuing to train hard before the next trials and will give it my all – as I always do.”

Dervis added: “Sport is so accessible for children and is another means of achievement for them. It has helped me so much and I hope it can do the same for other young people. The 2012 Games can inspire people of all ages and abilities to start getting active now.”

Kim Wright, Hackney Council’s Corporate Director for Community Services, said: “I’m delighted Dervis did so well at the first trials for Beijing 2008 and wish him the best of luck in qualifying for Team GB. He is a talented athlete who trains extremely hard and is also a great role model for our young residents, telling his story to inspire them to get involved in sport and physical activity.”