Britain’s Olympic Hopefuls – Rebecca Adlington

Labour Party

Rebecca Adlington has achieved so much in her career already and she goes in to London 2012 as one of our greatest hopes for gold.

Rebecca was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire in 1989.  She started her swimming career with Sherwood Colliery Swimming Club.  Rebecca continues to compete in local swimming leagues for Nottingham Leander Swimming Club, and took part in the National Speedo ‘B’ Final in May 2010.

Rebecca competed in her first Olympics in Beijing 2008, swimming the 400 m and 800 m freestyle. She was also chosen to swim in the 4×200 m freestyle relay team but did not take part in the heat as she was being rested and the team failed to qualify for the final. In what has to be one of the greatest moments in British Olympic history, Rebecca beat Katie Hoff of the US in the last 20 m of the race to take the gold.  She was the first woman to win a gold in swimming for Great Britain since Anita Lonsbrough in 1960. She was also the first British swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Olympic Games since Henry Taylor, who won three in 1908.

Rebecca is strong supporter of local swimming pools and has said still uses them regularly.  Last year she came out in support of a campaign to stop them being shut, saying;

“I’ve been swimming in local pools since I can remember and there’s no doubt those pools helped me win two Olympic gold medals.

Without the access I had, and that was available for everyone, I would not be able to do what I do. But it’s not just about the elite level, it’s really important to have as many pools as possible for everyone to use.

Swimming is not only fun, but a great way for the whole family to exercise. More and more pools around the country seem to be closing down and we have to fight it before it’s too late.”

I completely agree with Rebecca that easily accessable pools are very important for the health wellbeing of local communities.  I wish the campaign every success.

Since 2008 Rebecca has become one of Britain’s most popular sports personalities.  I know that the whole country will be loudly cheering her on this summer in London.

Culture Secretary rumoured to cut funding for the Paralympic Games

Labour Party

Are there no depths to which the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will not sink?

Hard on the heels of his decision to abolish the UK Film Council, rumours abound that Jeremy Hunt will cut funding to the Paralympic Games.  Surely this is the cruellest cut of all, and totally unjustified.

The Evening Standard Londoners’ Diary picked up on the story and quoted me: 

Golden girl joins the 2012 cuts debate

Rumours of impending cuts to the Paralympic Games in 2012 have not gone down well with Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, pictured. “London getting the Olympics and Paralympics is such a huge thing that it’d be a shame if they had to cut back,” she told me at the premiere last night of Salt. Nor is London MEP Mary Honeyball happy. “If these rumours are true, and the Department for Culture Media and Sport have not denied them, I suspect the minister will find it hard to justify this move,” she says. “I’m sure Jeremy Hunt will face a backlash if this is announced. But the Culture Secretary fails to see the benefit [of the Olympic legacy], having himself reportedly said, ‘We’ve always had real concerns about the lack of a legacy for the whole country’.”