Rebecca Adlington backs ex-coach Bill Furniss to make a big splash
Rebecca Adlington, Britain's most successful swimmer ever, retires as her old coach steps up to take on team head coach role
Rebecca Adlington believes the future of British swimming is bright following their appointment of the coach who guided her to four Olympic medals.
Adlington announced her expected retirement in London today, calling time on the most successful swimming career in British history.
And just 24 hours earlier Bill Furniss, who coached Adlington since she was 11 at the Nova Centurion club in Nottingham, was confirmed as British Swimming’s new head coach.
“I think swimming has got the right people in charge now, the challenge is going to be turning all our finalists into medallists in the next few years,” said Adlington, who had made no secret she wanted a British coaching set-up to succeed the partnership of Australian Michael Scott and American Dennis Pursley after they quit following a disappointing home Games.
“Bill is a fantastic coach, he’s seen it all first hand and he’s so experienced. I wish him all the best and I’ll always be there to offer any advice if he needs it.
“Not working with Bill is the hardest thing about not competing anymore. He helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. It will be hard not to see him every day, having him there to guide me.
“But I’m so excited for him. It’s exactly the right time for him to take the next step and he will do a brilliant job.”
Adlington won double gold as a teenager in Beijing and claimed double bronze at the London 2012 Olympics.
She also won four world medals, including 800m freestyle gold in 2011, and double gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
But her retirement at the age of 23 is no major surprise – although she wants to stay involved in the sport and has been quickly installed as a dream contestant for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing – her favourite TV show.
“I don’t have any regrets and I certainly won’t miss getting up at 5am every day,” she added.
“I hope I will be missed and I hope that I made an impact. We need to have more belief in our sport in this country. We can be negative but a home Olympics means people have pushed us up rather than pulled us down.
“There is a long way to go because we’ve not got the facilities of Australia, China and the USA but I’d love to be involved in helping the talent coming up.
“I’ve been swimming since I was four years old, it just feels the right time to stop. I’ve not retired from swimming though, I’ve just retired from competing.”
Adlington’s career was praised by British Olympic Association chairman Lord Coe, who dubbed her a “national treasure”.
“Becky Adlington’s unforgettable success in Beijing inspired a generation to get in the pool and swim,” he said.
“Becky’s vision for the future of grass roots swimming in this country will create a wonderful legacy from one of our greatest Olympians.
“I have no doubt this vision will be pursued with the same drive, dedication and determination as Becky consistently displayed in the pool.”
And British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt, the Team GB chef de mission at London 2012, hailed her “remarkable talent and tireless work ethic”.
“Becky Adlington has set a standard of excellence that future generations of Team GB athletes will aspire to reach,” he said.
“She represents the very best of what British sport, and the Olympic Movement, are all about. As Becky transitions now into a new phase of her career, we wish her the very best for continued success, and congratulate her on her remarkable career with Team GB.”