Arts graduate at the Olympics
University of Auckland alumna Melissa Ingram will be swimming for New Zealand at the London Olympics, which begins at the end of this month.
Melissa, who graduated earlier this year with a Bachelor of Arts, is a 200m backstroke specialist and heads to the Games with some strong results over the past year, having won two golds, a silver and a bronze medal at the World Cup meet in Beijing, breaking her own 200m backstroke national record in the process. She also picked up a silver medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the World University Games. It will be her 2011 form that she will be hoping to replicate or better in London.
“My training has been about building a good base and using the racing of 2011 in 2012,” says Melissa. “I qualified for the Olympics at the World Championships in July last year so I’ve had a full year to focus on my Olympic preparation, and this has meant I’ve been able to pretty much train right through. I’ve swam some personal best times at some world cup events which was encouraging to do without having had much rest.”
One of the more experienced of the swimmers, Melissa has had an outstanding career to date with a representative history that dates back to the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester where she qualified in the finals for the 200m backstroke and has since accumulated some 19 medals, including a nine Gold medal haul in the 2008 World Cup Circuit.
While it will be Melissa’s second Olympic appearance, having also represented New Zealand in Beijing in 2008, the 27-year-old is confident she is well prepared to give London her best shot.
“By the time I arrive in the Olympic Village all the hard work has been done. I’m a very focussed and somewhat serious person so I’ll be concentrating on my race but I’m also going to be having fun. The racing is the fun part – the celebration of all the hard work that’s been put in and hopefully that is reflected in personal best times.”
With a representative career that has taken her across the globe over the past ten years, it is an impressive feat to have managed to start and complete academic study with her numerous swimming commitments.
“Melissa is an exceptional talent and a great example of an elite athlete who has managed to apply a focus and dedication to both their sport and their studies,” says Louis Rattray, Director for Sport and Recreation at the University. “That Melissa is now competing in her second Olympic Games is an amazing feat in its own right and I look forward to watching her progress.”
The heats for the women’s 200m backstroke being on Friday 3 August (NZ time).
Image supplied by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.