Olympic star Jackson hoping that health problems are behind her

Jo Jackson will be hoping this week’s British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield will mark a reversal of fortunes for the Olympic bronze medallist after severe asthma and ill health blighted her career for more than 18 months.

The 24-year-old, from North Yorkshire, had become a contender on the world stage after her Olympic 400m freestyle bronze was followed by a stunning 2009.

Jackson broke the 400m world record and went on to take two individual silver medals and one relay bronze at the World Championships in Rome.

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Notably, one of her silver medals in Italy came in one of her first outings in the 800m freestyle with team-mate and Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington in fourth.

On her return the Loughborough-based swimmer then broke the 400m short-course world record as she confirmed herself as one of the world’s top swimmers.

However, in the autumn of 2009 illness struck and the next 18 months were a cycle of ill health and asthma so serious her ribs would pop out in training.

Her training and consequently competition was affected and, while she won relay medals at last year’s European Championships and Commonwealth Games, the Richmond-born swimmer found herself overtaken in the individual events by Jazmin Carlin.

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However, Jackson believes she may have finally turned the corner earlier this year after the World Championship trials in Manchester.

She said: “I feel all right. I feel as though I am getting back up there. My asthma is fine although I do keep thinking ‘oh no, when will I get ill again?’”

Jackson admits the last 18 months have been desperately hard but her demeanour is noticeably happier.

She said: “A true athlete keeps going. I hated it. I love swimming – it’s my passion. I want to be at my best again.

“Last year wasn’t meant to be.”

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Jackson has yet to qualify for next month’s World Championships in Shanghai and is hoping to secure her place at the second wave of trials at Ponds Forge starting today.

She will go in the 100m and 200m freestyle with an individual spot up for grabs in the latter before. As well as Jackson, European backstroke double medallist Lizzie Simmonds, from Beverley, has yet to qualify.