In her home town, Adlington's fans hail her bronze as a 'great result'
Jonathan Brown reports from Mansfield as locals cheer on their swimming heroine
Linda Bennett was clapping her hands so hard and jumping up and down so fast that it looked like she was going to take off. Rebecca Adlington's first swimming teacher was among 50 supporters who had gathered in the Oak Tree Leisure Centre in Mansfield to will their heroine on to a medal.
Hopes were realistic, but when Adlington turned into the final length in third place the roof nearly flew off. Beccymania was back in this former mining town. "That was absolutely fantastic," said Mrs Bennett, with tears in her eyes. "I thought she might just pick it up you know," she added.
Her former head coach Ian Negus at the Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club agreed. "That is a great result. She was up against it and it was a difficult race. There were a lot of very fast girls in it so she will be proud of herself," he added. Owen Wakefield, 11, a member of the Nova Squad, who watched her Beijing triumph while on holiday in Skegness four years ago, was among those motivated to take up the sport by the local hero. "She did really well, especially as she was in lane eight and couldn't see the opposition," he said. "I'm ecstatic," said Mansfield Museum curator Jodie Henshaw, "but whatever she had done we would have been proud of her," she said.
A tweet from Adlington earlier had sought to put a lid on expectations. She told fans that she would try her best but that she was "not expecting much". But even if she failed in her attempt to become the first woman to retain the 400m title since Martha Norelius in 1928, bronze was good enough for her home town.
Earlier, young swimmers at the Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre had taken part in an event to promote the sport at the eponymous pool. Councillors took the unanimous decision to rename Sherwood Baths in 2009 and later gave it a £5m makeover. It was here that the Adlington story began – she started having lessons aged six and was soon training six times a week. As a result of her experiences she has become committed campaigner against local pool closures.
The swimmer was treated to a jubilant reception when she returned from Beijing in 2008 with two golds and a world record. She was driven through the town centre in an open-topped bus and cheered on by a 15,000-strong crowd, having earlier been taken to the town hall in gold Rolls-Royce and presented with a pair of gilded Jimmy Choo shoes.
"Rebecca's a really good technical swimmer. It's a real inspiration to see someone from here taking part in the Olympics and makes me feel I could achieve it too," said 13-year-old Matthew Moore yesterday as he swam the lanes named after her.
Until Ms Adlington's success, Mansfield's most famous son was Shane Fenton, better known to 1970s rock audiences as Alvin Stardust. Mansfield will never forget what Adlington has done. On Thursday they will be willing her on even harder as she battles over her favoured distance of 800m.
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to come
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assistant/Event...
£23760 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The JobAre you a trai...