By Mike Rowbottom

Synchronised_swimmingMarch 23 - Synchronised swimming has become the latest domestic sport to be awarded places at London 2012 through Host National Qualification places.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed today that the British synchronised swimmers will be given the opportunity to utilise the maximum of nine such places next year in order to compete in both the team and duet competitions.

Andy Hunt, the BOA chief executive and Team GB Chef de Mission, said the sport had made "impressive progress" since Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison had finished 14th at the Beijing Games.

At last October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Randall took silver in the individual and silver in the duet with Allison despite the fact that they had to complete the second half of their routine without being able to hear their music as their underwater speaker had broken down.

"We are very pleased to be able to give Britain's best synchronised swimmers the opportunity to showcase their talent and outstanding ability in front of a home crowd at the London 2012 Olympics," said Hunt.

"Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison produced a very credible performance to finish 14th at the last Olympics in Beijing and the centralised performance programme based in Aldershot under the leadership of Biz Price has delivered impressive progress since.

"Results such as the top ten positions claimed in both the duet and free team finals at the 2009 World Championships and top six positions at the 2010 European Championships are evidence of the consistent performance level now being achieved.

"The return of three medals from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi demonstrates that both the team and duet are now well placed to produce inspirational performances at London 2012.

"Crucially, British Swimming has also demonstrated to us that they have a well developed plan in place to maximise the unique opportunity of competing at a Home Games and to ensure a strong long term legacy for the sport across the UK."

BOA director of sport and deputy Team GB Chef de Mission Sir Clive Woodward said: "Synchronised swimming is an incredibly physically demanding sport and our athletes have shown tremendous dedication and commitment to their training programme during this Olympiad.

"This has resulted in a succession of very encouraging and credible performances against the best competition in the world."

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes said: "The hard work and dedication of the athletes has been rewarded and we are confident that this is just the start because we expect to see our synchronised swimmers challenge for medals in future competitions including Rio and beyond.

"We would wish to pay tribute to the professionalism of all the coaches and support staff at our centre in Aldershot and a special thank you to our partners at the British Army and Aspire who have created a fantastic environment for us in their pool."

National performance director Biz Price commented: "This decision is a testament to our athletes and staff who have put a lot of hard work into the programme since 2007.

"We have enjoyed a period of rapid improvement and this has become evident by our results on the international circuit.

"We have proven that our athletes are competitive on a world stage in what I view as a young and dynamic sport.

"In Synchronised Swimming, we have a young team and we have all worked hard to ensure that our athletes are ready, not only for 2012, but also for 2016."

British synchronised swimmer Katie Dawkins added: "We have worked so hard since we were centralised in 2007 and to be recognised as being competitive on a world stage by the British Olympic Association is great.

"We are all really excited about having the opportunity to compete at the Olympics.

"For me it is a dream to compete at a Home Games and now I just can't wait for London to come around."

The BOA has now confirmed that synchronised swimming, basketball, table tennis, judo, handball, beach and indoor volleyball, water polo and weightlifting will be able to take up Host Nation Places at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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