Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Becky through to the Final in Style as the Fastest Qualifier

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Becky through to the Final in Style as the Fastest Qualifier

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant

REBECCA ADLINGTON began the defence of her 800 metre Olympic freestyle title in top form today -- thrashing her competition and qualifying fastest for the final.

Her win in today's heat in 8min 21.78sec sets up what promises to be a thrilling final with her closest rival Denmark's Lotte Friis, who swam in a separate heat and qualified second fastest just 0.11 of a second behind.

Adlington said: "Lotte and me are friends and we have been racing against each other since we were in the European juniors.

"It has always been us two."Her bid to retain the title will be a family affair -- unlike the situation four years ago in Beijing.

While her parents were in China to cheer her on, they were cheated out of tickets to the final.

This time the entire Adlington clan is heading down from the Midlands to watch her bid for glory tomorrow night.

Today her parents told of their family's pride and said they want her to inspire a generation of youngsters to take up swimming. Her mother Kay said: "It's amazing, we're incredibly proud of Becky. She has had tremendous enjoyment from swimming."

Adlington, 23, from Mansfield, won Britain's first medal in the pool with bronze in the 400m freestyle on Sunday -- and admitted swimming in front of a home crowd was "a bit terrifying", adding: "I have to make it just another swim."

Her mother added: "Behind all that sits the years and years of hard working, the dedication. We want to come here, enjoy it and hopefully see her do the best she can on the day."

Her parents said they were amazed by the roaring crowds inside the aquatics centre -- and felt for French winner Camille Muffat.

Mrs Adlington said: "We felt sorry for the French girl who won because Becky got a bigger response than her. The support of the home crowds is amazing but this is the first time any of these athletes have had to deal with anything like that. There are all these emotions and then she has to deal with the swimming. You go through the nerves, you're willing them on."

Adlington has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter and her parents said she is helped by the encouraging messages she receives. …

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