Keri-Anne Payne wins 10Km race, qualifies for London 2012

Keri-Anne Payne celebrates winning the 10Km open water race at the FINA championships

Keri-Anne Payne took gold on day four of the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai, becoming the first British athlete to qualify for next year’s London Olympics in the process.

Winning the 10km Open Water swimming competition at Jinshan City beach this morning (19th July), the Speedo-sponsored swimmer finished with a time of 2.01:58.1 ahead of Italy’s Martina Grimaldi by 1.8 seconds and Greece’s Marianna Lymperta by 3.7 seconds.

Payne took to the top step of the podium after leading from the front throughout the 10km course, braving surface temperatures of well above 30C and water temperatures of 29C.

After winning, an emotional Keri-anne said: “I couldn’t be happier right now. It hasn’t sunk in yet, I don’t think it will until I get home. I’m very much a family girl and my sister, Janine, is in labour at the moment and all I can think about is her. I’m hoping she’s alright and everything is OK with the baby.”

Keri-Anne proudly displays her gold medal following victory in the 10Km open water event in Shanghai

On swimming in Shanghai and competing in the pool, she said: “It feels good to swim in Shanghai. Hopefully I’ll recover over the next couple of days and then go out there and see what I can do.”

Keri-Anne also had a message for her fans, “I want to thank every single person supporting me; all of my sponsors and all of the people who sent me messages on Facebook and Twitter and especially my family for their great support, it is so great to have them behind me.”