Rebecca Adlington

  • Full name Rebecca Adlington
  • Also known as Becky Adlington
  • Birth date February 17, 1989
  • Birth place Mansfield
  • Current age 30 years 246 days
  • Height 5 ft 10 in
Rebecca Adlington and Joanne Jackson celebrate their gold and bronze medals

The niece of former Derby County goalkeeper, Terry Adlington, Rebecca Adlington became a national treasure almost overnight as she became the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals in a century.

After learning to swim in her local pool in Mansfield, Adlington joined Nova Centurion Swimming Club in Nottingham, aged 12, where she was by coach Bill Furniss, who has been her coach ever since.

Adlington made her international debut in 2003 at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Paris, where she won silver in the 400m and 800m freestyle. Her first international victory came the following year at the European Junior Championships, and she was invited to train with the British team in Athens ahead of the 2004 Olympics.

Just as it looked like Adlington was on course for further success, in 2005 she contracted glandular fever. She was 15 at the time and revising for her GCSEs and she thought she was just tired from overtraining, but she was diagnosed with the virus, and post-viral fatigue which forced her to cut her training to a minimum. She was forced to miss the World Championships and the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

While many would have given up, Adlington refused to admit defeat, and she got her reward in Hungary at the 2006 European championship, on her first senior international debut she got silver. However, after qualifying for the World Championships in 2007, she failed to make the final. Disappointed, she was determined to bounce back and in 2008 she broke British records in Olympic trials and qualified for the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle.

In Beijing she beat the 'female Phelps', Katie Hoff to 400m gold by a seven hundredths of a second, with team-mate Jo Jackson taking bronze, making Adlington the first woman to win swimming gold medal since 1960 in her weaker event.

While her first gold medal was won by a fingertip, her second was dominant. In her stronger event, Adlington was the clear favourite and she didn't disappoint, winning in 8.14.10, and finishing a stunning six seconds ahead of second-placed Alessia Felippi. Adlington smashed the longest-standing world record in swimming by a massive two seconds, set by USA's Olympic champion Janet Evans in 1988 when Adlington was six months old.

However, 2009 was a year to forget. Feeling the pressure of her newly found fame, at the World Championships in Rome, Adlington could only manage bronze in the 400m behind Jackson, although her time was two seconds faster than the time she won by in Beijing the year before.

However, in her stronger event, the 800, freestyle, she missed out on the medals and admitted she was feeling the pressure. She has also revealed she may quit the 800m freestyle in favour of 200m ahead of 2012.

Career high
Adlington became a national hero overnight as she stormed to two gold medals in Beijing, aged just 19.

Career low
Being diagnosed with glandular fever and post-viral fatigue set her swimming career back. It was a difficult time for Adlington who nearly lost her sister Laura who suffered from encephalitis, a swelling of the brain; a complication of the glandular fever.

"If you really love something that never dies and it never goes away. And that's what it's like with swimming…I genuinely love the sport whether I'm competing or not. Whatever I'm doing I'll still love the sport, it's such a great thing to be part of."

"Some swimmers stand on the block and crack. Becky stands there and gets better." Adlington's coach, Bill Furniss

After her success in Beijing, the Sherwood Baths swimming pool where Adlington learnt to swim was renamed the - Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre


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Aug 2, 2012

Rebecca Adlington gets into her stride

Aug 2, 2012

Rebecca Adlington prepares for the 800m freestyle

Jul 30, 2012

Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield enter the water

Jul 30, 2012

Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield in sync

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