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Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 13:53 UK

Adlington tipped to add to gold

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Video - Freestyle gold and bronze for GB

By Claire Stocks
BBC Sport in Beijing

Rebecca Adlington ended British women's 48-year wait for a swimming gold and could win two more to become one of the Games's most successful swimmers.

The 19-year-old was a surprise winner of the 400m freestyle and has the 800m freestyle and 4x200m relay to come.

Karen Pickering, former 100m freestyle world champion, believes Adlington can go on to claim all three.

She said: "Rebecca has her best event, the 800m, to come and the relay team will be buzzing with confidence now."

Adlington is likely to be joined in the relay team (heats on Wednesday, final on Thursday) by three swimmers also in fine form - Jo Jackson (who took bronze behind Adlington and US swimmer Katie Hoff), Mel Marshall and Caitlin McClatchey.

And Adlington, who failed to make the 2006 Commonwealth Games team after contracting glandular fever, but went on to win silver at the European Championships in Hungary, says she can't wait to get back in the pool and have another crack at a medal.

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Adlington and Jackson want more success

"This gives me and Jo great confidence going into the relay, our team is looking amazing.

"The 800m is a different event and I don't know what is going to happen, but this British swimming team is amazing and I think there will be more medals this week."

Pickering says the surprise result is because of a change of management style in British Swimming since the departure of controversial boss Bill Sweetenham, who took over after the medal drought of Sydney in 2000 and imposed a tough regime before he stood down in 2007.

"Some people will say this is the legacy of Bill Sweetenham but it is not," insisted Pickering.

"It is the legacy of the hard work put in by Adlington and her coach Bill Furniss.

"In fact, Becky may well have had better results in the World Championships last year if she had been able to do the training that her coach felt was right for her.

"If you have someone constantly saying 'do this, do that' that's not right, it can shatter your confidence.

"It's a case of too many cooks spoil the broth."

Pickering, who said she would swap all her 35 major swimming medals for one Olympic medal, said the mood in the relay team was in total contrast to the team of which she was a part four years ago under Sweetenham.

Rebecca Adlington (left) and Jo Jackson show off their gold and bronze medals
Adlington (left) and Jo Jackson show off their gold and bronze medals

"Our relay team was in turmoil, it was a nightmare," she said.

"No-one knew how to qualify to make sure they were in the four. No-one knew what order to swim in and one girl was told one week before that she wasn't going to swim, she was devastated and then it turned out we needed her.

"Four years on it is completely different.

"In fact, I can't help but have a pang of envy and wish the team I was on was this team because they are really enjoying themselves.

"Sweetenham had a theory that if you were smiling you weren't trying hard enough but now the guys are relaxed and I believe you are seeing the results.

"A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer."

But other former swimmers disagreed with Pickering saying while Sweetenham, who was replaced by Michael Scott last year, was uncompromising, he did shake up the system for the better.

"Sweetenham took a lot of flak but he shook things up, and (secured) lottery funding," said Adrian Moorhouse who won Britain's last Olympic swimming gold in the 100m breastroke at the 1988 Seoul Games.

"We've now had more funding into the sport, for coaches, facilities. It's taken that long to see the benefits."

I wasn't sure if she had got it until that moment and then I came from behind my cushion and hit the roof

Rebecca Adlington's mother Kay on 5 Live

And former Olympic silver medallist Sharron Davies agreed: "You have to give credit to Bill.

"He did give everyone a kick up the backside. He did not have man-management skills - but Michael does - so between them the pair of given us what we have got today."

Mark Foster, Britain's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony who swam in the first of his five Olympics when Moorhouse won his gold, said the British team was overjoyed with the result.

"It's the most emotional swimming meeting I've been in since Adrian's gold, and this eclipses it," the 38-year-old said.

"The whole team is absolutely buzzing over it. It's mind-blowing.

"Looking back in the last 20 years we've had four women's finalists, full stop. And all of a sudden you've got a gold and a bronze."

The Adlington household in Mansfield, where 18 or more of the family crowded into the living room to watch Becky's swim during the small hours, was also an emotional scene.


Adlington's mother Kay, said: "I wasn't sure if she had got it until that moment and then I came from behind my cushion and hit the roof.

"She said she was just going to have fun with it and warm up for the 800m and see what she could do.

"It's just a bit scary and that's the word her coach uses a lot about Becky -when she is on form what she can do is scary."

Interviewed on Radio 5 Live's Breakfast show and put on a live audio link-up with Beijing, Mrs Adlington told her daughter: "The last 20 metres were absolutely wonderful Becky, we were all absolutely stunned!"

Mrs Adlington added: "She's just won a gold medal at her first Olympics and she knows she needs to get herself down a bit to work for the relay and 800m, she is just so professional and dedicated.

"As her mum I am just so proud as I know she can handle it and won't get carried away by it."

Moorhouse said he thought the relay would be a good tonic to help Adlington keep her feet on the ground.

"She has lots of friends in the relay team and she will really want to do well by them which is good as it will mean she won't think too much about the 800m."

Adlington is the top-ranked swimmer over that distance in the world this year, but will face Hoff, who she touched out for gold in the 400m, and Federica Pellegrini, the pre-race favourite in the 400m who was widely adjudged to have gone out too slow and let Adlington, a notorious fast finisher, in for the gold.

Anita Lonsborough, who was the last British woman to win swimming gold, in the breaststroke in Rome in 1960, told Adlington on BBC TV: "It's taken far too long for this to happen so well done champ!"

Lonsborough put the result down to British Swimming's decision to organise the trials in April along the same lines as the Olympics themselves, with finals in the morning and heats in the afternoon.

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Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:17 UK
see also
Adlington snatches swimming gold
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Adlington may get baths tribute
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Phelps wins second gold in relay
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Kitajima takes breaststroke gold
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Trickett wins 100m butterfly gold
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Rice sees off Hoff for shock gold
10 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Adlington sets sights on GB medal
10 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Adlington in record-breaking form
13 Jul 08 |  Swimming
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Guide to synchro
02 Mar 06 |  Swimming

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Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 also show each event results forUSA 12 9 10 31
Men's 100m Backstroke 1 1


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