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Victory takes Adlington by surprise
Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington shocked even herself as she issued a forceful warning to her London 2012 rivals with a stunning victory in the 800 metres freestyle at the British Gas ASA National Championships in Sheffield.
The 23-year-old is in the midst of heavy training which at its height sees her plough through 70,000m a week, but this proved no barrier as she won in eight minutes 19.03 seconds, half a length ahead of second-placed Eleanor Faulkner, the City of Sheffield swimmer who will also swim this event at the Aquatics Centre.
It is the second fastest time in the world this year and one only the Nova Centurion swimmer herself has bettered. Her effort at Ponds Forge eclipsed by 0.93secs her time in Barcelona earlier this month and only Adlington has gone inside 8mins 20secs this year.
The Mansfield-born swimmer said: "I can't talk! That was so painful, far more than Barcelona.
"It's hard when you are on your own mentally to keep tough. I felt really sore, I really tired.
"I didn't expect to do that. I would have been happy with mid 20s. I am so shocked with that, I don't know what to think - I'm too tired to even think."
Experience has taught Adlington not to feel the weight of the expectations of others.
"It's just pressure from myself. I want to do well, it's the thing we've all been talking about for seven years, it's the biggest thing I'll ever experience as an athlete," she said.
"You don't want to come out disappointed, you want to have a good Games, everyone does. It's the pinnacle of any athlete's career. I know it's going to be tough, I only just scraped into the 400m final at worlds last year.
"It was one of those situations - I don't know how I am going to feel in the morning, I don't know what is going to happen so I just hope and pray to God I can get in those finals."