Saturday, March 13, 2010

Frustration will fuel Adlington's Commonwealth dream

REBECCA Adlington is ready to unleash four years worth of frustration on her rivals when she takes part in the Commonwealth Games trials.

The Mansfield swimmer might have won double gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, but she is desperate to add Commonwealth glory to her CV.

Her bid to compete in 2006 in Melbourne was thwarted by illness that left her unable to make the qualification time.

And in an ironic twist, by the time the Games unfolded she swam a time in England that would have secured a silver medal in Australia.

But she has bottled up that disappointed and plans to use it to her advantage when the British Gas Swimming Championships begin on March 29.

She wants first place in the 400m and 800m freestyle to secure her place at October's showcase in India, without the need for the second trial.

And she feels ready to peak at the national championships in Sheffield, which also act as the European trials.

The 21-year-old said: "Training is going really well and for me, as a distance swimmer, I will start to come down slowly in my training to ensure I am ready.

"I have been racing at events while in full training. It has been a case of training, racing, training. I have been swimming through and I am not really a mid-season kind of girl."

That was the case at the recent British Gas GB v Germany Swim Meet in Swansea.

In the 400m teenager Jazz Carlin stormed home in 4:06.41minutes, with Jackson second and Adlington third. But she bounced back to claim the 800m in 8:42.46mins.

But she expects to be in peak condition at Ponds Forge and said: "If I win my event, it guarantees my place.

"We have also got the European Championships in August as well so it is a big, big year.

"I missed the Commonwealth Games last time but now I have my chance, I am stronger and I really want to experience the Commonwealths and make up for last time.

"It is in India and people say they are the friendly games. You have England, Scotland and Wales, there are more teams and you know your British team-mates but this time they might be racing for a different country. It is very different and one I want to be part of."

Adlington was thrust into the international spotlight after her heroics in China while still a teenager.

Last year she failed to land a medal in the 800m at the World Championships as she slipped to fourth in Rome after winning bronze in the 400m.

All the expectation took its toll as she fought back tears in her post-race interview.

But all the experience since the Olympics has made her stronger and she feels physically and mentally ready to handle the pressure.

"Since the Olympics it has all calmed down," she said. "Straight afterwards I did not have agents so I had to do everything myself, or my mum did it. It was so difficult.

"As soon as I got a manager and got organised, it has made it much easier for me to concentrate on my swimming.

"It was a case of I wanted to do all the stuff after the Olympics (television shows etc), it was a once in a lifetime experience and I enjoyed doing it. I do not regret doing it.

"There is pressure to do well but I am not the only one. Within Britain there are so many top swimmers like Jo Jackson, then there are huge names like Peligrini (of Italy). The spotlight is not just on me."

One constant from before the Olympics is her relationship with Nova Centurion coach Bill Furniss.

They have worked together ever since Adlington moved into the elite group of swimmers in Notts, years before she shot to fame. Adlington said: "Bill had never had a summer like that before, the Olympics, it was new for him.

"We both had to try to manage it and now we have to talk about things like managing expectation, as well as just the swimming.

"He is exactly the same towards me and I am the same towards him. It is no different. We know each other too well, it is such a long relationship. He knows when I am tired, I do not have to tell him."

As for Sheffield, Adlington has one thing on her mind.

"Obviously winning is the aim," she said, determined to book her air ticket to Delhi later this year.

"I am focusing on the race itself and since Beijing I have improved my 400m time but not my 800m, which for me is my main event. So that is what I want to do. The 400m is a bonus.

"It is exciting, I am looking forward to it."

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