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Page last updated at 05:45 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 06:45 UK

Adlington hampered by media glare

Fina World Championships
Date: 17 July-2 August (swimming from 26 July) Venue: Rome
Live/highlights on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website


I need to buckle down - Adlington

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has expressed her desire to stay out of the media spotlight so she can focus on swimming.

The 20-year-old was tipped for gold in the 800m freestyle at the World Championships but finished fourth.

"I just need to go away and get back to swimming and just not doing anything else," said a tearful Adlington.

"I have to try and get back to loving it and enjoy it a little bit more than all the media stuff."

In Saturday's race at the Foro Italico in Rome, world record holder Adlington was unable to respond as her rivals pulled away, and the Mansfield-born swimmer ultimately came in behind Danish winner Lotte Friis, fellow Brit Jo Jackson and Italian Alessia Filippi.

After the heats, Friis had suggested that she believed she would not be able to beat Adlington, but she produced the second-fastest time in history to win in eight minutes, 15.92 seconds.

Adlington, who won bronze medals in the 400m free and the 200m freestyle relay, admitted her performance was affected by the intensity of the media glare on her.

You know she will get back in training and go really well and she will be there next year

Jo Jackson

"It is very difficult coming into a meet where everybody in the papers is talking about you beforehand. I have never dealt with that before," said Adlington.

"It's the first competition I've come into where everybody is talking about it.

"In the day, I am always doing something and not going back and resting. It's just very difficult.

"Hopefully I can work on it and next year come back fighting."

Adlington was just 19 in August 2008 when she became the first British swimmer in 100 years to win two Olympic gold medals, in the 400m and 800m freestyle.

She was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list and finished third behind Sir Chris Hoy and Lewis Hamilton in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year poll.

In March this year she intimated that the pressure placed on her from her profile had begun to affect her performances in the pool.

Jackson has been largely in Adlington's shadow since Beijing, where she claimed bronze in the 400m freestyle.

In Rome though she has outshone her close friend, claiming two silvers - one in the 800m free on Saturday - and a bronze in the 200m relay.

The 22-year-old has backed Adlington to bounce back with 14 months until the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.


"You know she will get back in training and go really well and she will be there next year," said Jackson. "She is going to be there, she will always be there. It was so close out there."

Speaking of her own performance, Jackson expressed delight at a medal haul she had refused to contemplate before the championships.

"I don't really know what I expected. I put aims down on paper and they were times not medals and I think I got pretty close to most of them," she said.

"To come away with three medals...I only got one bronze last year at the Olympics so to get two silvers and a bronze, I'm so happy with that."

Meanwhile, Great Britain head coach Dennis Pursley claims the pressure of being Olympic champion and her decision to wear a Speedo LZR rather than a performance-enhancing, non-textile swimsuit may have conspired to leave Adlington out of the medals in the 800m freestyle.

"It was not only the pressure of being Olympic gold medallist but the pressure of being the only one in the race without the suit," said Pursley.

"I think she could have probably have handled any one of those but you put the two together and she was carrying a heavy load.

"But she is not only a great athlete but also a great person and has tremendous strength of character.

"She'll be back and I think she will turn this into a great positive. She'll use it to help make it better next time around. We haven't seen the best of Becky yet."

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see also
World Swimming photos
02 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Swimming world records in Rome
03 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Phelps pips Cavic to break record
01 Aug 09 |  Swimming
Britain's Halsall snatches silver
31 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Hi-tech suits banned from January
31 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Cavic breaks Phelps mark in semis
31 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Record-breaking Phelps wins gold
29 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Brilliant Biedermann beats Phelps
28 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Swimming calendar
17 Oct 00 |  Swimming
Adlington struggled with pressure
17 Mar 09 |  Olympics
Adlington heads New Year honours
31 Dec 08 |  Nottinghamshire
Adlington storms to second gold
16 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Adlington snatches swimming gold
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming

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