REBECCA Adlington described medalling at a home Olympics as simply ‘unbelievable’ – and then turned her attention to winning the 800m freestyle.
The Mansfield star, who won double gold in Beijing as a teenager four years ago, recorded Great Britain’s first medal in the pool with a gutsy 400m freestyle swim from lane eight last night.
The 23-year-old came home in 4:03.01, quicker than the time she won gold in China in 2008, but it was not enough to defend her title as France’s Camille Moffat stormed to a new Olympic record in 4:01.45.
But willed on by the electric home crowd at the Aquatics Centre, the Mansfield star moved from fifth at the 250m stage to take third, with America’s Allison Schmitt in second in 4:01.77.
Adlington, who goes in the 800m heats on Thursday, said: “It is unbelievable. I never expected that. After the morning, qualifying eighth fastest, I did not know what to expect.
“I knew everyone will say ‘you won gold in Beijing’ but I never expected that. I am so, so pleased to medal at a home Olympics. Not many people can say they I have done that but I can now.
“I knew it was going to be a fight and I gave my hardest. The atmosphere was incredible.
“You can hear them and that is what a home crowd is all about. No matter where you come, you get that reaction and that is what I got excited about. They push you on that extra place.
“My focus has mainly been on the 800m, I haven’t raced as much 400m so that is amazing. The 800m is going to be just as tough, and I will battle just the same to win a medal. That is the aim.”
Her performance brought the crowd to its feet inside the last 50m as the majority of the 17,500 spectators went wild, willing her to the wall.
And afterwards she made her way over to Nova head coach Bill Furniss, thanking him with a kiss and a hug before showing her appreciation to the crowd.
“Before the race, I did not look up because I did not want to get overwhelmed by the event,” she added. “I was so excited to hear the crowd but I did not want to look. I had a job to do and had to concentrate on my job and everything Bill had told me.”
Adlington qualified eighth for the final, in a time of 4:05.75.