Olympics: London 2012 dream is over for slalom star Donington
THE margins between realising a life-long dream and having it crushed can be agonisingly small in sport – and Louise Donington found this out to her cost as she was cruelly denied a place at the Olympics.
The Fulstow ace had been hoping to book her spot in Great Britain's team for canoe slalom at this summer's Games in London.
But the 27-year-old former pupil of Louth's King Edward Grammar School, North Somercotes' Birkbeck School and Fulstow Primary School narrowly failed to get the selectors' nod.
Only one Olympic spot was available in each of the individual canoeing categories, meaning contenders had to be virtually flawless in the trials.
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And, despite an excellent display in which she came second overall, it was not good enough as only top-placed Lizzie Neave gained selection.
"It has been a stressful time", explained an emotional Donington.
"I've been waiting a long time to be able to tell people that I'm going to the Olympics – but it has not happened.
"I'm upset about it, but pleased with the way I performed.
"It was a tough course – very physical and demanding with fast white water."
In the three races that made up the selection contest, Donington finished third, second and second. In one of those, she was less than a second behind the winner.
But Neave won all three races to book her place in the 'greatest show on Earth'.
For Donington, who now lives in Nottingham but whose parents still live in Fulstow, there was the consolation of a place on the British team for the forthcoming European Championships in Germany.
She will form part of a three-woman slalom team who will battle it out with the best from across the continent in the competition, which starts on May 2.
It means there is precious little time to get herself in the right mental shape following her Olympic hammer blow.
But she is in superb physical condition and once there, she will no doubt be keen to prove that she can mix it with the very best.
"The fact that I've missed out on something that only happens every four years is hard to take," she said.
"But I would rather do well in the trials and come so close like I did than perform badly and be nowhere near."
Donington's rival for selection, Neave added: "I can't quite believe it and I think it will take some time to sink in.
"It didn't all go quite according to plan, but I held it together, had a plan B and didn't panic.
"There was only ever going to be one of us making the team and I am just pleased it was me."
Reflecting on the event and the selected teams, John Anderson, Team GB canoeing performance director, said: "We have seen some outstanding performances and it has certainly been a rollercoaster ride.
"It is possibly our strongest canoe slalom team ever for an Olympic Games, all with the potential to challenge for the podium."