Swimming: Rebecca Adlington called time on her illustrious swimming career today, saying: “I have achieved everything I wanted to.”
Britain’s most decorated swimmer of modern times, Adlington won double gold in Beijing 2008 as well as two bronzes at London 2012, but has decided her future lies away from the pool, albeit at the tender age of 23.
Announcing her expected decision, Adlington said: “I hate the word retire so I don’t want to say retires from it at all because I will never retire from swimming in general.
“I love swimming, it’s something I’ve always loved. As a competitive element, as an elite athlete, I definitely won’t be competing any more.
“I will always be swimming, even when I am 90 years old I will still be getting in the pool.”
She added: “Some people want to milk it all they can. I’ve always said I wanted to finish on a high, despite my love of the sport.”
Adlington said her future will still involve the sport she loves and she will now turn her focus to her swim programme Becky Adlington’s SwimStars, which aims to ensure every child in Britain can swim 25 metres when they leave primary school.
She said: “I think the whole thing about the Olympics is legacy and everyone keeps throwing legacy around.
“Obviously the Games did that. People saw us, all the little kids were on TV, going: ‘I want to be a Chris Hoy, I want to be a Becky Adlington,’ but you can’t just leave it at that. ‘Right I’ve done my job in London, that’s it.’
“I want to create a deeper legacy which is trying to get every single child swimming 25 metres when they leave primary school.
“That would be my absolute goal in life to do that. I know it’s ambitious, I know it is very out there, but I wouldn’t have said five years ago that I’d have four Olympic medals in my drawer at home.
“I know it’s ambitious, but I know with a lot of hard work you can do that. It is such a life skill, it would be amazing, it would overtake anything I’ve achieved medal-wise.
“That would be the greatest legacy of all.”
It was Adlington’s barnstorming victories in the 400m and 800m freestyle at the Beijing Olympics that made her a household name and she admitted that she never expected to achieve such success.
“Beijing changed my whole entire life,” she said. “It was without a doubt the best moment of my entire career. I never, ever thought in a million years I would have two Olympic gold medals.
“And my world record still stands. I know it will go soon, but it is still there.”