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Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 13:47 UK

Laureus honours swimmer Adlington

Olympian Rebecca Adlington
Olympian Adlington has been honoured by the Laureus Academy

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award.

The 20-year-old became Britain's first female Olympic swimming champion in 48 years after winning the 400 and 800m freestyle in Beijing in 2008.

Adlington said she was "honoured" to receive the award, which she collected from London 2012 chairman Lord Coe.

Coe said: "Her arrival on the scene as an Olympic champion at 19 was dramatic and refreshing."

Adlington wiped more than two seconds off Janet Evans' 19-year-old world record when she swam eight minutes, 14.10 seconds on her way to winning the 800m freestyle.

It was the kind of achievement that saw the young swimmer win the votes of her sporting peers in the Laureus Academy, which is made up of 46 members such as Sir Ian Botham and Sir Bobby Charlton.

She said: "It is a real honour to win this award. It's quite awe-inspiring when you realise who the 46 members of the Laureus Academy who voted actually are.

"It's a unique award, made even more flattering when you look at the names of the other sportsmen and women who were nominated, not to mention the previous three winners - Lewis Hamilton, Amelie Mauresmo and Rafael Nadal."

Earlier this month, Adlington, who is from Mansfield, collected an MBE from the Queen for her services to swimming.

"The last year has been a fantastic experience and I hope my journey towards London 2012 is equally as enjoyable," she said.

There was disappointment for British Paralympic cyclist Darren Kenny, however, as he lost out to Brazilian swimmer Daniel Dias for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

Kenny, 39, of Dorset, won four golds and a silver in Beijing, but Diaz won nine medals including four gold, four silver and one bronze.

Dias, 21, who began swimming when he was 16 and learned all four swimming styles in just two months, said he was "overwhelmed".

Edwin Moses, the Laureus World Sports Academy chairman, said: "His record is absolutely phenomenal. His success in Beijing was exceptional."

Dias later joined Adlington to look at the building work on the London 2012 aquatics centre, where they both hope to be going for gold at the next Games.



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see also
Bolt runs off with Laureus award
10 Jun 09 |  Sport Homepage
Adlington receives royal honour
02 Jun 09 |  Nottinghamshire
'Highest honour' for medallists
24 Sep 08 |  Nottinghamshire
Adlington could target four golds
29 Sep 08 |  Olympics
Adlington storms to second gold
16 Aug 08 |  Swimming


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