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Celebrating 120 years of female Olympians with Rebecca Adlington

After a week of glory in the pool for Team GB, there is no better place to turn in our 120 year celebration of women at the Olympics than to Rebecca Adlington.

Making her senior debut in 2006 at the European Championships and coming away with a silver, Adlington went into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a firm favourite for Team GB and, as all who watched it can recall, certainly did not disappoint.

Competing in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events, she won the double gold, the dramatic last 20 metres of the 400 metres seeing her overtake Team USA’s Katie Hoff and seal the gold medal as the crowd went into a frenzy.

British swimmer Rebecca Adlington celebrates her gold medal win in the womens 400m freestyle final in Beijing in 2008.

Her races in both the 800 metre heats and finals were iconic for Britain too, setting the Olympic, British, Commonwealth and European record in the preliminary rounds with an outstanding time of 8:14.10, the first time the record had been broken in over 50 years.

Adlington didn’t only break speed records, she also crowned herself as the first British woman since 1960 to win an Olympic gold medal for swimming. Not only that, she was also the first British swimmer to win a double gold since 1908, cementing herself as one of Team GB’s greatest athletes.

At the 2012 London Games, Adlington came away with a double bronze in the same events, announcing that she would not compete in the 2016 Rio games, instead becoming part of the punditry team.

She retired in 2013, with Olympic, British, European and Commonwealth titles all to her name.

Want more great pictures from the Olympics? Make sure to head over to picstory.co.uk

PicStory is a history of Britain like never before.

From photographs depicting local scenes, to coverage of events that swept across the whole nation, PicStory is a growing collection of images that together document the lives, events, and movements that have shaped modern Britain from the earliest years of the 20th Century up to the eve of the present day.

Reach titles have been documenting and recording British life for hundreds of years. Now, PicStory is about opening up our archives to the general public providing an incredible window into our shared history.

New technologies enable us to present these archives in full resolution and access is open to all. Plus, the images may be freely shared for free using our embed tool, provided it is for any non-commercial use.

There is no curated commentary or overriding narrative, simply a growing collection of digital images taken from Reach newsrooms across the entire country.

This is history as it happened, good and bad, big and small, captured by our photographers and now shared with the public for free.




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