MANSFIELD swimmer Becky Adlington insists she’ll relish arriving at next year’s London Olympics as reigning world champion after claiming 800m freestyle gold in Shanghai.
Adlington produced one of her best performances since winning 400m and 800m gold at the Beijing Olympics to land her first world title on her return to China.
Trailing to 2009 winner Lotte Friis at the bell, Adlington turned on the afterburners to touch home in 8.17.51 seconds and top the podium at the Oriental Sports Centre.
And while regaining her status as world number one will only increase the pressure on Adlington ahead of London, the 22-year-old claims she will rise to the occasion.
“I definitely think I’m the kind of person that can handle pressure. I have pretty much learned to cope with that now, I think I’ve had to after the Olympics,” said Adlington, who won 400m freestyle silver on the opening day.
“I don’t want to put all the hard work in, get up early mornings, just to not make it happen.
“Mentally I struggled with that. I’m really lucky that I use Simon [Middlemas] the British Swimming psychologist. He is absolutely amazing. He has helped me so much.
“I don’t think it is a weakness on my behalf that I have to see him I think it is just nice to talk to someone like your parents or your coach who are so biased. He just tells it how it is and that’s what I need.
“It was not a frustration just a disappointment when I wasn’t achieving what I know I can achieve.
“It is very, very tough when you have to do it the hard work. Your mind takes over and you know physically you can do it but your mind is playing games with you.”
Adlington had already gone stroke for stroke with Friis in the heats and it produced the same result in the final as she pushed on at the end to stop the clock 0.69secs ahead of the Dane, with Kate Ziegler in third.
After going home empty handed from the 2007 worlds and with two bronzes in 2009, Adlington finally has the full set of golds and even with London 2012 on the horizon admits she could retire happy if the medal rush stopped now.
“It is nice because it is the kind of thing that no one can ever take away from me now no matter what happens next year,” added Adlington, who is now set to take her first holiday in two years.
“Obviously I would love to go into the London Olympics but if I don’t make it I can still be so happy with what I have achieved in my career.”
“This swim was completely different to ’09, completely. The 400m was going better after the Olympics and now I have turned it back round for the 800m. Hopefully it is looking good for next year.
“I’ve obviously done a lot more work on the 800m and focussed on that.
“I think I learn more from the bad swims than I do from the good swims to be. It definitely makes you stronger.
“I’m the type of person who it doesn’t knock me down if I have a bad swim it just makes me more motivated.”
l British Gas is supporting the British Gas GBR Swimming Team to win more gold medals, as part of its partnership with the sport at all levels. For more information visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming.