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.

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