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Adlington: Winning gold is not as easy as picking up a drink

The swimmer, who won bronze in the pool on Sunday, has tempered the gold medal ambitions of Team GB supporters.

Adlington won gold for Great Britain at Beijing 2008.
Adlington won gold for Great Britain at Beijing 2008.
Image: Tony Marshall/PA Wire

BRITISH SWIMMING STAR Rebecca Adlington has downplayed the medal expectations enveloping home athletes at the London Olympics, saying taking gold wasn’t as easy as ‘picking up a drink’.

Adlington claimed bronze in the 400m freestyle on Sunday, failing to defend the title she won in Beijing four years ago.

She will now aim to mount a successful defence of the 800m freestyle gold she also captured at the 2008 Games, when the heats for the longer distance start on Thursday.

After the opening weekend of action, Adlington’s bronze and Elizabeth Armitstead’s silver in the women’s cycling road race were Britain’s only medal successes in a disappointing start for local fans.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to ever get a gold medal, that wasn’t an expectation of mine,” Adlington said. “It came from other people,” the 23-year-old added.

High hopes

Britain won 47 medals in Beijing to finish fourth in the 2008 Games medal table and UK Sport, which invests public funds in performance development, wants 48 medals from at least 12 sports this time around.

The body has invested €385 million euros in Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes in the past four years.

Inevitably, this has led to an intense focus among UK sports fans on the medal count in London but Adlington said the press and public needed to understand just how hard it was to get a place on an Olympic podium. She added:

Your own goals are very different from what other people expect from you. You can only go off what you want to do, your goals and your targets.

“I understand why people (expect gold medals), but they don’t know enough about swimming maybe and it has grown so much over the last few years, but no-one wins every race.

“People have said to me ‘are you going to get a gold?’ like it is easy as picking up a drink.”

“Swimming is one of the hardest sports to medal at,” Adlington remarked.

For myself, it has been extremely difficult, I am not saying it in a negative way, it was just a message of support.

“Everyone at the Olympics will give it 110 percent, whether they are swimmers or not, we can only do our best. I am just happy to say I am the third-best in the world, that is unbelievable.”

- © AFP, 2012

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