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.
"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:
Adlington is currently engaged to 21-year-old swimmer Harry Needs.
The couple plan to marry this summer.
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