Rebecca Adlington could only secure a bronze medal in the 800m Freestyle final at the London 2012 Olympics.
Heading in to the race, everyone was expecting the Mansfield swimmer to defend her title from Beijing in her favoured event, to add to her bronze medal in the 400m. It was billed as a battle between Adlington and her Danish rival Lottie Friis, but no-one was banking on a sensational swim from American Katie Ledecky.
The 15 year old stunned her rivals as she attacked from the first stroke, pulling clear of Adlington and Friis over the opening half of the race, sitting over a second underneath Adlington’s world record from Beijing at the 400m stage.
Ledecky led the remainder of the race to take her first Olympic gold medal, just missing out on a new world record in the process, while behind Adlington and Friis began to fall back. This left them under pressure from the quick-finishing Spaniard Mireia Belmonte Garcia, with a scrap developing between her and Adlington for silver. The Spaniard came out on top, leaving Adlington with a bronze medal, while Friis dropped to fifth.
After the race, Adlington told the BBC: “It was such a difficult race, she [Ledecky] went out so fast, she swam absolutely incredible. She’s only 15.”
“It’s one of those things that the 800m was my event. The pressure and everything, the expectation has been a battle going into this meeting. I am so pleased with that. I would have liked the time to have been quicker, I’m not going to lie. I don’t know what happened, obviously everything has caught up on me.
“I gave it absolutely everything. I’m sorry I didn’t get the gold that everyone was expecting from me. I am proud to get a bronze, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I hate it when people say it is losing because you have not done my sport.
“Swimming is one of the hardest events to get a medal at. It’s not like other sports. Hopefully the public will be proud of me getting that bronze.”
The 23 year old now has four Olympic medals to her name, two golds from Beijing and two bronzes from London, making her the most successful female British swimmer in Olympic history.
Simon Paice – Head of News