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Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington on online abuse she received: “I just got hammered by the trolling and it was always about my appearance”; Watch Driving Force on Sky Sports Arena and Mix on Tuesday, 9pm

Last Updated: 05/01/21 8:36am

Rebecca Adlington's investiture at Buckingham Palace was tarnished due to the trolling she received about her appearance

Rebecca Adlington’s investiture at Buckingham Palace was tarnished due to the trolling she received about her appearance

Rebecca Adlington discusses the impact of trolling with Judy Murray in the latest episode of Sky Sports’ docuseries Driving Force on Tuesday night.

As a double Olympic gold medallist from Beijing 2008 and a double Olympic bronze medallist from London 2012, Adlington is Britain’s most successful swimmer.

After her two gold medals in Beijing, she was awarded an OBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list and despite retiring from swimming in 2013, she remains one of Britain’s most high-profile and well-known swimmers.

However, after enjoying great success, the swimmer had to deal with a most unpleasant side of modern-day life, and something that remains a reality for so many athletes and individuals in the public eye.

“For me, the online bullying started once I’d had success,” Adlington said during the episode of Driving Force.

“I just got hammered by the trolling and it was always about my appearance. It was always about the way that I looked.

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Judy Murray interviews the biggest names in sport and explores stories of success, discrimination and achieving the impossible

Judy Murray interviews the biggest names in sport and explores stories of success, discrimination and achieving the impossible

“Nobody had ever given me a heads-up that there was going to be that, so it was just a mix of shock and not understanding it.

“I was getting so many personal messages as well, and I just thought, what have to done to you? I don’t even know you. It was very hard to deal with.

“To your parents, you are their baby, you are their world and you are amazing; I can’t imagine reading something about my daughter. I would be distraught.

“It just changes you,” she said about the trolling. “I remember getting my OBE and I wore this green dress, the next day were comments saying that I was too fat to wear that dress and that I looked awful.

When it first started for me, I would tell my mum and dad or other people around me, but I quickly learnt not to. You end up keeping it in and bottling it up, because it would upset them so much and people around me would get so hurt.

Rebecca Adlington

“I don’t have one photo of when I got my OBE now, because I just don’t want to remember that day as it was so tarnished.

“I got so much hate for a dress that I wore, that it made me feel so bad about it. It makes me think, every time I put a dress now.

Watch the episode of Driving Force with Rebecca Adlington live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix at 9pm

Watch the episode of Driving Force with Rebecca Adlington live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix at 9pm

“To be honest I didn’t realise [the impact] until I’d fully retired from swimming. You’re in such a bubble in sport, when you’re in it you just live and breathe performance. I was able to bat things off a lot more because I was performance driven.

“If somebody said something, I’d swot it away and just think about a gold medal. It wasn’t until I was much older that I thought that I’d bottled so much in.

“I saw a therapist last year and it wasn’t until I sat down with somebody external, and talked to them fully, that they said they could help to adjust things. I openly say that therapy is the best decision that I’ve ever made.”

As the episode of Driving Force continues, Adlington also talks about the impact sports psychologist Simon Middlemas had on her career and her exceptional partnership she enjoyed with coach Bill Furniss OBE.

Adlington also shares her thoughts on need for young female athletes to have more support when it comes to managing personal issues including menstruation.

Plus, she speaks about her experience of retiring from swimming at the age of 23 and about the learn to swim campaign she champions for children in England.

Watch the episode of Driving Force with Rebecca Adlington on Tuesday at 9pm, live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix at 9pm. The episode will also be available on On Demand via Sky and NOW TV.





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