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Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington

Sports Personality of the Year
Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena Date: Sunday, 14 December Time: 1900 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website.


Rebecca Adlington brought British swimming out of the doldrums virtually single-handed with two golds at the Beijing Games.

The 19-year-old from Mansfield became the darling of the Olympic pool with her successes in the 400m freestyle and 800m, where she broke the world record.

Adlington became the first British female swimmer since Anita Lonsborough in 1960 to win Olympic gold.

She also won the 800m freestyle at this year's World Championship.

Andy Jameson
By Andy Jameson
Olympic swimming bronze medallist

Andy Jameson and Adrian Moorhouse's BBC commentary on Rebecca Adlington's Olympic successes will live long in the memory of those who stayed up the late hours to watch the thrilling races.

Here, Andy recalls the triumphs and explains why he thinks Britain's swimming superstar deserves to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Rebecca Adlington is just 19 and she's the girl next door.

Before her exploits this year, Rebecca had never made the finals of the Olympics or the world championships - by making the team for Beijing, she was entering the hottest cauldron in the world.

What happened during those two weeks was sensational. She went into her first final, the 400m freestyle, took on the world's best and won by seven 100ths of a second. Rebecca became the first British female swimmer since Anita Lonsborough in 1960 to taste Olympic glory.

If that wasn't enough, she then goes into her best event, the 800m freestyle, and breaks Janet Evans' 19-year-old record, the oldest swimming record remaining and as old as Rebecca herself, to win her second gold.

SPOTY extra - All gold for Adlington


She joined Dame Kelly Holmes as one of two women to win two golds at one Games, and to do that on funding that's just paltry is a fantastic achievement.

It was tough to tell how Rebecca would do in Beijing, leading up to the Games. She went in ranked number one in the 800m, but usually the world's best step up to the mark despite having maybe not performed well in the season.

It's a difficult task converting form to winning a major title, but Rebecca managed it spectacularly. Britain has not got a great history of doing that in the pool, in fact the last to do so was Adrian Moorhouse in 1988.

I remember Rebecca's races so well. The 400m freestyle was an interesting one. Everybody was very, very close during the race - they all had a cracking chance of landing the title.

At halfway, there was only half a second between the whole field. Rebecca did not turn higher than fifth until the last turn, when she was fourth. On the last 50m, American Katie Hoff was a second-and-a-half up. She had looked to have won it, but everybody then began catching her up.

606: DEBATE

I nearly lost it commentating on that race because she came back so quickly on the final length. Not only did Rebecca win gold but Jo Jackson picked up bronze - it was brilliant for Britain.

Then there was the 800m. I've commentated on swimming for 20 years but I'd never had the chance of commentating on a British swimmer who had taken on the field from the start and won.

And to see that world record was something special, from a British woman in a gruelling event. It was great to watch and a plesure to commentate on.

She's a Jekyll and Hyde character when it comes to Rebecca the athlete and Rebecca the person.

As an athlete, she's the toughest. She trains very, very hard. Rebecca doesn't like losing and was very, very disappointed not to make the final of the world championships last year - she said she wouldn't let that happen again. As a person we all know what a bubbly, fun character she is.

We shouldn't underestimate what Rebecca has done for British swimming. We've had a shocker in the pool since 1988, when we won three medals. She's put British swimming back on the map and it's also good for female sport.

In fact, Rebecca's feats have been great for Britain and that's why she's my Sports Personality of the Year.


Andy Jameson was talking to BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

Stories from Adlington's year:



SPORTS PERSONALITY:
Sun 14 Dec, 1900 GMT,
BBC One & BBC Radio 5 Live.

see also
Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Adlington
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Ben Ainslie
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Joe Calzaghe
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Nicole Cooke
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Lewis Hamilton
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Chris Hoy
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Andy Murray
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Christine Ohuruogu
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Romero
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sports Personality 10: Bradley Wiggins
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality


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