DOUBLE Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has praised her inspirational GB team-mate Gemma Spofforth for the way she has kept her focus on swimming despite tough personal times.
Spofforth’s ups and downs since being diagnosed with pancreatitis in 2005 have been well publicised and range from Olympic heartache and family bereavement to a world title and record.
The 24-year-old reached a career high at the 2009 World Championships, winning 100m backstroke gold in a global best time, while one of her lowest ebbs came at the same event last year.
She threatened to quit after surrendering her world title and failing to reach a single final in Shanghai, and at March’s British Gas Championships talk of retirement was again aired.
That came after Spofforth (below) booked an Olympic spot in the 100m backstroke. She revealed she’d have quit if she hadn’t made it to the Games.
With her story in mind Adlington doesn’t struggle for motivation.
“Everything that Gemma has gone through in her career and with her family, her story is amazing, I just look at her and think ‘how are you still here?’,” said Adlington.
“I find Gemma so inspiring. Everyone has their stuff they have had to overcome, but hers is inspirational.
“She comes back fighting and, instead of being knocked down more by it, she gets up and fights it. Other people do that on the team as well and I think that is why we do so well.
“British swimmers are resilient and that’s one of the good traits we have. Others like Fran Halsall, who came back from a bad injury, have shown that too.
“Lots of us are doing really well and Gemma is going to be right up there challenging for a medal in London.”
Spofforth will individually only swim the 100m backstroke at the Olympics this summer while her British rival and friend Lizzie Simmonds will only take to the water in the longer 200m.
Ever since Beijing in 2008 they have been rivals in both disciplines although that won’t be the case in London.
* Rebecca Adlington is a British Gas ambassador. British Gas is getting the nation to show its support for the British Swimming Teams and is giving away free swims. Simply visit www.britishgas.co.uk/freeswimming