British Olympic swimming sensation Rebecca Adlington has won the 2009 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.
Adlington, 20, from Nottinghamshire, left the swimming world in awe when she swiped two gold medals in Beijing aged 19, becoming Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion in 48 years and the most successful British swimmer in over 100 years. In the 800 metres, she broke one of the oldest and most illustrious world records in sport. Her time of 8 mins 14.10 secs was more than two seconds better than Janet Evans’ 19-year-old world record which was created when Adlington was just six months old.
She said: “It is a real honour to win this Award, it’s quite awe-inspiring when you realise who the 46 members of the Laureus Academy who voted actually are. To be recognised by the likes of British legends such as Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton, Lord Coe, Daley Thompson, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, swimmers Mark Spitz and Dawn Fraser, is incredible.
“It’s a unique award, made even more flattering when you look at the names of the other sportsmen and women who were nominated, not to mention the previous three winners – Lewis Hamilton, Amelie Mauresmo and Rafael Nadal. The last year has been a fantastic experience and I hope my journey towards London 2012 is equally as enjoyable. Thank you so much.”
Lord Sebastian Coe, the Chairman of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee, and Dame Kelly Holmes, herself a double Olympic gold medallist, presented Adlington with the prestigious sports Award. Coe said: “Her arrival on the scene as an Olympic champion, at just 19, was dramatic and refreshing and she thoroughly deserves to win the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.”
Dame Kelly Holmes, added: “I congratulate Rebecca for an amazing performance in Beijing. I can totally identify with her. I have been there and I know how exciting this must be for her. There is something very special about winning a gold medal – or two of them. And then to be acknowledged by the great champions of the Laureus Academy is just so thrilling.”
Catherine Challen, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
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