Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 16:42 UK

Gold medallist swimmer quizzed

School Reporters, Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham, with Rebecca Adlington
Shaun, Anderson and Mr Lowery met the 19-year-old champion
School Reporters interviewed Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, who is an ambassador for the BBC Sports Unsung Hero 2008 Awards.

The swimmer kicked off the regional nomination process for volunteers who have made a difference to their community through sport.

Students from Ellis Guilford School and Sports College joined other journalists at the University of Nottingham Sports Centre for the launch press conference on Tuesday 7 October 2008.

Our interview with Rebecca Adlington
By Shaun and Anderson
School Reporters, Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham

Why did you pick swimming instead of other sports?

Basically because I enjoyed it the most. At school I did all the usual P.E. sports like running and football, but it was always the swimming I enjoyed most so that's what I pursued.

How many hours swimming do you train each week?

I do about 21 hours a week of swimming. On a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I do about four hours of swimming, and on Wednesday and Saturday morning I do about two.

What motivates you to train for so long each week?

The Olympics, to be honest, because it's the biggest event in my sport. If you're a footballer, you aspire to play in the World Cup. If you're a runner, again the Olympics would be top of the tree. So for me the Olympic Games has always been the thing that's motivated me.

What other sports did you like to do apart from swimming?

I liked girls' sports, so I liked netball, things like that. I was never one for contact sports!

Who was your role model when you were growing up?

I didn't really have one to be honest - which everyone is always surprised about. There were people I looked up to and respected, but there was never anyone who made me think "I want to be them" because I'm completely different. I want to be my own individual swimmer.

What tactics do you use to win a gold medal?

Hard work to be honest. In any sport it's the hard work, the effort and the hours you put in. You've got to keep working at it.

How did it feel, being in your first Olympics?

Overwhelming at first. The number of people is just unbelievable. You go into the stadiums and it's just absolutely huge. You kind of walk in and it's like "Wow!" But you're there for a reason, so you can't get ahead of yourself. You've got to take it in and then get focused on your race. That's what I did - I tried to get away from it all and refocus, re-concentrate and get back to the race.

Who were you most excited to meet at the Olympics?

Being a swimmer myself, for me it was Michael Phelps. Eight gold medals isn't too shabby is it?! The other thing I enjoyed watching was Usain Bolt's 100m and 200m, that was just unbelievable. I didn't get to meet him unfortunately - I had to do some media interviews - but all the other swimmers went down to see him after his race.

Would you feel offended if another swimmer had all the attention?

Not at all. I think we're all totally individual swimmers. Dave Davies took the silver medal in the open water, Cassie Patten and Keri-Ann Payne got medals in the open water. I have so much respect for those swimmers, I think what they do is ten times as hard as what I do so they deserve the credit for it.

How does it feel being a champion?

It feels good! When you finish your race, or your match, whatever it might be, it's a great feeling knowing you've come out on top. It's the sense that all the hard work has paid off. You feel relieved, you feel satisfied. It's amazing to be honest.

Which made you happier - the gold medal or the world record?

The world record was the one I was most shocked by. I knew once I'd touched the wall in the 800m that I'd won the event and I didn't expect the time, so turning round to see that I'd broken the world record was just unbelievable. That's the one that's always going to be there on a piece of paper. It doesn't just say "She got the gold in 2008", it says "Rebecca Adlington, world record holder" - that's the best thing.

Do you still think you will be a great swimmer at London 2012?

I hope so! I still enjoy the sport. I think as long as my motivation and drive are still there, my technique is always going to be there, so I'll be there, doing what I do.

Did you choose to swim yourself or were you forced into it?

I wasn't forced, at all. My older sisters swam, and I'm the baby of the family, so I just kind of followed my sisters into the sport and ended up really enjoying it - and progressing past them!

What do you plan to do with your money and fame?

I plan to carry on training, but in better facilities and with better funding. At the moment my parents fund everything for me, which you'll probably find yourselves, but now I can relieve my parents of that stress and pay for everything myself - buying costumes, buying equipment and paying for competitions.

Did you "pig out" when you finished the Games?

I did - massively! Someone asked me "What's the first thing you want to do?" and I said "Have a hamburger!" There was always a fast food restaurant at the food hall when we got back from games, but we had to go to the pasta section and eat healthily, while thinking "I just want some chips!" So the first thing I did was go and have a burger and chips!

Are you worried that your training might be damaging your health?

At the minute, I'm lucky enough to be fit and healthy and have no injuries, but I've seen people within the sport who have got injured, and you definitely have to rest and recover before you get back into it. Then you have to build your training back slowly and gradually, and be patient.

Do you think having the Olympics in your home country in 2012 will help you swim better?

Definitely. I think it'll help everybody within sport. In the next four years we're going to see more money going into sports, better facilities and more availability, so that younger kids can get involved.

School Reporters, Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham, with Rebecca Adlington

The Mayor of Mansfield Tony Eggington promised Rebecca a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes if she came home with an Olympic gold.
I know for me, being on home ground is just a fantastic thing. For everyone in Britain as well, I think just being able to watch the Games on TV will be a great experience.

How did you feel about getting your Jimmy Choo shoes?

Other girls will understand what I mean when I say it's great getting make-up, shoes and other girly things. I loved getting them, they're something I cherish!

Were you ever bullied for doing the thing you love?

I was never bullied, but some people thought it was a bit crazy that I didn't want to go out or do other things. I was doing something that I loved, and I didn't let it affect me. If you love something, keep doing it, it's no-one else's decision, if you love doing it - do it!

What would you have done if you hadn't won the gold medals?

I don't know to be honest! That's a good question. My goal for the Olympics was to do a personal best time, and luckily enough I did that, but even if that wasn't enough to get a medal I would've been happy.

Did you start swimming for fitness or competition?

I think every kid should learn to swim for fitness and going on holiday. I did it just to learn, but then I made loads of friends and really enjoyed seeing them. I was around 10 or 11 when I started swimming for competition.

In Pictures: Rebecca Adlington returns
26 Aug 08 |  In Pictures
Adlington may get baths tribute
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming



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