Has years of taunting, trolling and cruel quips taken its toll on Britain’s most successful swimmer?
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, 25, apparently underwent nose slimming surgery at a top Harley Street clinic this month to improve her self-esteem.
The retired athlete, who also won two bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympics, has previously expressed her struggle to come to terms with her own body image.
Most notably, she broke down in tears during her appearance on ITV show I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! in 2013 as she compared her physical appearance to that of glamour model contestant Amy Willerton( scroll down to watch the video).
"Every day I look in the mirror and go, ‘God, I’m not pretty. I’v e got a very big nose’," she told the diary camera.
10 Sports Stars Who Retired Too Young
10 Sports Stars Who Retired Too Young
1/10 Rebecca Adlington, Swimmer
Won: 2 Gold medals, 2 Bronze in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.
Retired: Aged 25.
2/10 Martina Hingis, Tennis Player
Won: 5 Grand Slam singles titles and 9 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Retired: Aged 22 the first time round, but she came out of retirement for a world tour in 2006 at 26, before withdrawing from the sport again.
3/10 Amy Williams, Skeleton
Won: 1 Gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Retired: Aged 26 shortly after her win. She made her commentating debut during Sochi 2014.
4/10 Justine Henin-Hardenne, Tennis Player
Won: 43 WTA singles titles and 7 Grand Slam singles titles.
Retired: Aged 28, due to on-going injuries.
5/10 Rocky Marciano, Boxer
Won: 49-0 heavyweight wins, with 43 knock-out victories between 1948–1955.
Retired: Aged 32.
6/10 Bjorn Borg, Tennis Player
Won:16 Grand Slam singles titles, 101 career singles titles and five consecutive ATP Player of the Year titles between 1976-1980 .
Retired: Aged 26.
7/10 Mark Spitz, Swimmer
Won: 9 Olympic golds, one silver and one bronze.
Retired: Aged 22.
8/10 Elena Dementieva, Tennis Player
Won: 16 WTA singles titles and an Olympic gold medal.
Retired: Aged 29.
9/10 Michael Jordan, basketball player
Won: 7 straight seasons as NBA's top scorer and 3 straight Finals MVP awards
Retired: Aged 30 the first time round, in 1993. Jordan came out of retirement briefly, only to retire again in 1998.
10/10 Kim Clijsters, tennis player
Won: 41 WTA singles titles and 11 WTA doubles titles
Retired: Aged 25
"That’s what most of the negative comments on Twitter are about - my nose.
"People say ‘Oh God you look like a dolphin’, or ‘I didn’t realise they let whales into the Olympics, but at least you should be able to swim faster’.
"I’d have it straightened. But I couldn’t float the idea of having a nose job before, because with swimming you only get two weeks off a year.
"Would I have it done now? I’d probably have it straightened. But it’s really got to suit your face."
Adlington went on to admit that she found the criticism about her appearance the most challenging aspect of taking part in the Olympics.
She said: "It was the hardest thing to get used to, I thought: ‘ Why do people judge me for the way I look?’ It’s not as if I was trying to be a model.
"I always had a bit of an insecurity about the way I looked growing up. I knew that I wasn’t the most attractive girl at school.
"Even when I’d been on a night out, no boys would want to talk to me. So those comments hurt."
She also cited the inequalities of media scrutiny over the appearance of male athletes compared to female athletes.
"It’s hard for a woman. A woman has to deal with it – and that’s never easy.
"A guy doesn’t get comments on his weight or his looks."
As of yet, Adlington is yet to comment on the reports herself and her publicist has declined to comment.
But several of her fans have taken to Twitter to express their sadness – and support – for one of the UK's finest ever athletes:
If Rebecca Adlington did have a nose job because of bullies, that's horrible. People really shouldn't be so vile. Poor girl.Legs!! (@bookwormbett) February 24, 2014
find it really sad that @BeckAdlington felt she had to have a nose job because of the hateful things that people have said to and about herMr Brightside (@saraaheleanor) February 23, 2014
so happy for @BeckAdlington .. hope her recent surgery sets a new bar in her self esteemchantelle audin (@ChantelleAudin) February 24, 2014
Poor Rebecca Adlington....she is an amazing athlete and beautiful...those online bullied should feel ashamed. #rebeccaadlingtonYasmin Newell (@yasminnewell) February 24, 2014
Adlington is currently engaged to 21-year-old swimmer Harry Needs.
The couple plan to marry this summer.