Rebecca Adlington won Britain's first Olympic women's swimming title in 48 years with a victory in the 400 metres freestyle. France's defending Olympic champion finished last in eighth place after taking an early lead.
Rebecca Adlington claimed Great Britain's first-ever individual women's Olympic freestyle gold medal with a stunning victory in the 400-metres freestyle at the Beijing Games on Monday.
The 19-year-old English swimmer, competing in her first Olympics, out-touched American Katie Hoff at the wall to win in four minutes 03.22 seconds.
Hoff looked set to pinch the gold medal when she sprinted clear but Adlington, trailing by 1.5 seconds at the last turn, wore her down in the final 50m for a sensational win.
Joanne Jackson added the icing to the British victory by grabbing the bronze medal and both hugged each other in an embrace over the pool ropes celebrating the unexpected victory.
"We are both so happy and proud to be British," said Adlington after becoming Britain's first female swimming gold medallist for 48 years.
"To have two British girls on the podium, what more could you ask for?
"It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be and I felt like I was just holding on at the end."
Adlington went into the final eighth-ranked in the world, but left Italian world record holder Federica Pellegrini (fifth) and French world champion Laure Manaudou (eighth) in her wake in one of the great British Olympic swimming triumphs.
Sarah Hardcastle had come closest to victory in this Olympic event finishing second behind American Tiffany Cohen at the 1984 Los Angeles.
June Croft finished with bronze in that final and Catherine Gibson took bronze at London in 1948.
Hoff, who won bronze in Sunday's 400m individual medley, said she had given her all to squeeze out victory.
"I gave it everything I possibly had, but she got me in the end," Hoff said.
"Silver is one better than bronze, so I am happy with that. I would have loved to have touched first, but there was nothing much I could do.'
Adlington's jubilation was not witnessed by her mother and father at poolside after the Mansfield couple were the victims of an Olympics ticketing scam.
They had booked the tickets through a website to see their daughter compete, but last week they discovered the site was an elaborate scam.
The International Olympic Committee has now taken legal action to get the site closed down but has said that it will not offer compensation to those who have been victims of the illegal scheme.
Date created : 2008-08-11