Adlington reveals some old scores to settle

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The Independent Online

The omens are good for Rebecca Adlington. She has been in Osaka, Japan, preparing for a global event, and now she is in China ready to go for gold. It was the same back in 2008, when the Mansfield woman made a major name for herself on the world sporting stage.

Adlington was still a teenager when she emerged from the Beijing Water Cube as a double Olympic gold medallist and a world-record holder. From the depths of anonymity, everyone knew about the Nottinghamshire lass with the Midas touch and the Imelda Marcos shoe fetish.

Three years on, the pride of the Nova Centurion club is getting ready to plunge back into Chinese water as the pool programme gets under way at the World Aquatics Championships tomorrow. Given her Olympic pedigree, it would not exactly be a Shanghai surprise if Adlington were to emerge from the pool at the Oriental Sports Centre in China's Second City with another gold or two for her medal collection. Then again, though, she does have a personal score to settle on the World Championships front.

At the 2007 championships in Melbourne, nerves got the better of her and she failed to make the final of the 800 metres freestyle – the event in which she smashed Janet Evans' 19-year-old world record in Beijing a year later. She cried for three days.

The 2009 championships in Rome had the bronze lining of a third-placed finish in her secondary Olympic gold medal-winning event, the 400m free – in a final in which the Italian Federica Pellegrini broke through the four-minute barrier. In the 800m freestyle, though, the Olympic champion and world-record holder finished without a medal, in fourth place.

"I was pleased with my 400m at the last World Championships," Adlington said. "It was only the 800m that didn't go to plan. But it's a completely different competition now. That was two years ago. I'm just looking forward to racing the best of the world again."

It was impossible to know where everybody was truly at in Rome two years ago. Polyurethane bodysuits turned the championships into a world-record procession – for those who were advantageously suited, that is. Adlington was not among them. The performance-enhancing suits have since been outlawed.

"It was completely bizarre, the last worlds," Adlington said. "It was fantastic to watch that fast swimming."

Having won gold in the 400m and 800m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last autumn, Adlington is getting back to the kind of form that took her to her historic and memorable Olympic double in Beijing. She tops the world rankings in the 400m and 800m freestyle.

She may have achieved the ultimate prize in sport twice over, but Adlington insists she is as hungry for gold as she was in Beijing three years ago. "Motivation has never been a problem or an issue for me," she said. "This is definitely something I want to keep doing, especially with a home Olympics coming up."

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