Rebecca Adlington’s favourite recipe is banana and chocolate cake. Oh, no! She is not a chef. She is actually just learning to cook and wants to be an expert, like her mother. Adlington, by the way, is Britain’s brightest medal prospect in swimming at the London Olympics.
Adlington took to the pool at the age of four, learning the trade at the Sherwood swimming pool. She then joined the Nova Centurion at the age of 12, and it was here that Bill Furniss spotted her.
He groomed Rebecca — nicknamed Becky — who has since grown by leaps and bounds. That Furniss continues to be Adlington’s mentor speaks of the special relationship they share.
In the British national age group championships in 2001, Adlington won two gold medals (800m freestyle and 200IM), silver in 400m and bronze in 200m freestyle as well as 100m backstroke.
She was 12 at the time. Adlington created more ripples when she won two gold medals for Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
With titles in the 400m and 800m freestyle, she became the first British swimmer to clinch more than one gold medal at the Olympics after Henry Taylor, who claimed three in 1908.
Becky set a new world mark (8:14.10) en route to her victory in the 800m, breaking the 19-year-old record of Janet Evans. She was rested for the 4x200m freestyle relay, and the team failed to even make the final!
The Beijing performance took her to great heights. In June 2009, she was presented with the Laureus ‘World Breakthrough of the Year Award for 2008’ for her stunning show at the Beijing Games.
At the world championship in 2009, the pressure of expectation got to Adlington and, despite clocking a personal best of 4:00.79, she managed to finish only third. She then turned to sports psychologist Simon Middlemas, emerging more focused and determined.
In the 2011 world meet, she clinched gold in the 800m freestyle and silver in the 400m event. Becky was initially an individual medley swimmer, but coach Furniss found that she had excellent stamina and convinced her to take up the 400m and 800m freestyle. The latter is now her favourite event.
She was in Spain in early May for a training camp and then again in June for the Mare Nostrum series where she once again dominated the 800m freestyle competition. She has been in amazing form and her hunger for success hasn’t diminished at all.
Though she is currently the world No.1 in 400m and 800m freestyle, she has to ward off the challenge from France’s Camille Muffat, who has the fastest time of 4:01.13 in 2012, compared to Adlington’s 4:02.35 in 400m freestyle.
Adlington, however, would look to retain the 400m and 800m titles and keep the British flag flying high in front of her home fans.
Recently, there have been several uncomplimentary tweets about her looks and Adlington has decided to keep off the social network till the end of the Games. She would be doubly determined to prove that physical appearances mean nothing compared to prowess in the pool.