Local News

British Olympic medallist chooses Fuerteventura as a training venue

Rebecca Adlington, the bubbly, Mansfield-born swimmer, who achieved a remarkable double success at the Olympic Games in Beijing last summer is currently in training in Fuertventura.

At 19 years of age, Adlington became Britain’s first female Olympic swimming champion since Anita Lonsborough in Rome 48 years earlier when she won the 400m freestyle. But that was not enough for her superb talents because, six days later, she secured her place in the record books by winning the 800m freestyle - breaking the world record in the process - to become Britain’s most successful swimmer, either male or female, for more than a century.

And, with those achievements in mind, she was rewarded by being named our Olympian Of The Year for 2008. It was a tough decision for the judges, though, in a field that included Rebecca Romero, the first British woman to win Olympic gold medals at two different events - in 2004 in Athens, she triumphed in rowing before switching to cycling where she enjoyed success in the 3km individual pursuit last summer.

But it was Adlington, who will be given an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, that wooed our judges the most, even though she could not make it to the Awards because she is currently training in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and then competing in France.

She did, however, send a message of thanks and was quick to look ahead to the London Olympics in 2012. “To young kids, I say 'stick with it, enjoy whatever sport you can because London coming up and it is going to be an unbelievable opportunity',” Adlington said. “It is only three years away but four years ago I was not in the same position that I am now.

“The last 12 months have been a whirlwind and Beijing was unbelievable. Getting the OBE was such an honour and hopefully I can follow it up this year at the World Championships [in Rome].”

She added: “My life has changed drastically, but it is still the same. I am still getting up at five in the morning. I have met some fantastic people and done some amazing things."

Sport, perhaps like nothing else, can change a person’s life overnight and Adlington discovered that, making front page headlines and even having her fashion dreams come true. As was shown by Tony Eggington, the Mayor of Mansfield, when he said: “When we did our Olympic send-off, I promised her a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes if she brought back gold, so it looks like I might have to eat my words now. She has raised the profile of Mansfield and as an individual she is remarkable.”

She set a brilliant foundation for her success in China when she won gold at the world short course championships in Manchester in April in a European record of 8min 8.25sec. The rest is part of British sporting history.