Balfour Named British Swimming Board’s Olympic Athlete of the Year

LONDON, England, December 29. KIRSTY Balfour has been awarded the British Olympic Association's (BOA) 2006 Olympic Athlete of the Year Trophy for aquatics.

The European Champion has been selected for the new award launched by the BOA to celebrate its centenary and the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London.

The BOA has given all 35 Olympic governing bodies a trophy that they can award to their Olympic athlete of the year.

The British Swimming Board, who received nominations for the award from across the disciplines, chose Balfour (22) after her successful year, where her performance at the European Championships (LCM) helped Britain to the Top Team Trophy.

The Scottish swimmer added European titles in the 200 meter breaststroke and 400 meter medley relay and silver in the 100 meter breaststroke to the medals she claimed at the Commonwealth Games – silver in the 200 meter breaststroke and bronze in the 100 meter event. Balfour capped her year with gold in the 200 meter breaststroke and silver in the 100 meter at the recent European Championships (SCM) to prove she is one of the most successful British breaststroke swimmers in Europe.

She will receive her award at the 2007 Splash Awards held in April.

Balfour, who trains at the City of Edinburgh, is thrilled to have been selected for the award.

"I feel really honored to have been recognized by both the ASA and the BOA," she said. "I was surprised to have been chosen for this inaugural award. I am really looking forward to the awards dinner, it should be a great evening and hopefully I'll have more to celebrate after the World Championships in Melbourne."