London - Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington announced Tuesday her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 23.
popular Briton won two gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008 but
could only muster two bronze medals at London 2012 as the host nation's
swimmers managed a disappointing three medals between them in the pool.
She said now was the right time to quit as she could no longer keep pace with a younger generation of swimmers.
hate the word retire," Adlington said. "I love swimming but as a
competitive element and elite athlete I won't compete any more.
"I'll always be swimming even when I am 90 years old."
Adlington added: "I certainly can't compete with that (younger
swimmers). I can't do the same level of work, I need far more time for
"It's time. Beijing changed my entire life, everyone
wanted to learn about me. It was the best moment of my entire career,"
insisted Adlington, who in 2008 won Olympic gold in both the 400 metres
and 800m freestyle.
Adlington, from Mansfield, central England,
also thanked her family and her coach Bill Furniss, who on Monday was
appointed as the new head coach of British Swimming.
"I couldn't have done it without my family. Even my sisters, they helped me with my homework.
"Bill is the biggest thing....he has helped me as an athlete as much as a person."
Adlington first came to international attention by taking silver in the 800m freestyle at the 2006 European Championships.
Since then, she has won Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth titles.
Beijing, she became Britain's first female double gold medallist in
swimming and took the 800m freestyle in a world record time of 8 minutes
14.10 seconds, a mark that still stands.
But there have been low
points as well with Adlington, following the euphoria and publicity that
greeted her unexpected triumph in China, only finishing fourth in the
800m a year later at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.
London a clearly emotional Adlington felt she had let her country down
after failing to defend either of her Olympic titles and having to
settle for two bronze medals instead.
However, the podium ceremony at the 800m saw an enthusiastic crowd chant her name, a reception that moved Adlington to tears.