Conor Ferguson: Larne teenager outside Olympic mark in European semi-final

Conor Ferguson
Conor Ferguson is targeting the 100m backstroke Olympic qualifying standard

Larne teenager Conor Ferguson was outside the Olympic standard as he was 13th in the 100m backstroke semi-finals at the European Championships.

The 16-year-old's time of 54.99 in the Olympic pool in London seconds was 0.63 outside the Rio standard.

Ferguson was only 0.05 outside the Rio mark at the recent Irish Open tests.

His new Irish team-mate Shane Ryan did progress to Tuesday night's final as he clocked 54.39 seconds to clinch the eighth and last qualifying spot.

Ryan, competing for Ireland for the first time since he qualified to swim for his adopted country after switching allegiance from the USA, set a new Irish record of 54.21 to qualify third fastest from the morning heats.

Ferguson, making his senior international debut for Ireland, was fifth in his heat in a time of 55.06 seconds.

With the championships representing Ferguson's last chance to achieve the Olympic 100m backstroke standard, the Larne swimmer will now focus on the European Junior Championships in Hungary in July.

Speaking on his Facebook page, Ferguson said that he was "gutted" to miss out on the Rio Olympics.

Danielle Hill
Danielle Hill achieved her first Irish senior record back in March

"However, it has been a really exciting year for me, especially two weeks ago going 54.41," added the 16-year-old.

"Can't wait to represent Ireland at the European Junior Championships in July.

"Good luck to the guys going to Rio, especially to my bro Shane Ryan. Without this guy, none of this would have happened this year. Roll on 2020."

Ferguson's clubmate Danielle Hill was 29th overall in the women's 200m backstroke in a time of 2:21.55.

Hill was also making her senior debut for Ireland at the age of 16.

Sycerika McMahon will chase the 200m individual medley Rio standard in London while Curtis Coulter and Jordan Sloan will also compete.

McMahon, who competed at the London Olympics, is said to have produced impressive times in training and will also compete in other events at the Europeans.

Hill is focusing on the 100m backstroke in London with Sloan's events including the 200m freestyle and Coulter selected for the medley relay squad.

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