sport

Adlington yet to make decision

Rebecca Adlington will make a decision on her future after consulting coach Bill Furniss following an upcoming charity bike ride in Zambia.

The 23-year-old was third in both the 400 metres and 800m freestyle at the 2012 Olympics, adding double bronze to the two golds she won in Beijing four years ago.

While the Rio Olympics looks a step too far, the Nova Centurion swimmer is as yet undecided about her immediate future, with competing in the 200m and 400m a possibility.

Once she has returned from the 280-mile Bike for Africa Challenge - supported by British Gas and UK Sport - she is undertaking with former Olympic bronze medallist Joanne Jackson, ex-Commonwealth champion Ross Davenport and ex-swimmer Mel Marshall, Adlington will sit down with Furniss and decide on her next step.

Adlington said: "I haven't made that decision. In so many ways I think I can, but I need Bill's input in that because I need to know what he thinks.

"At the end of the day, you don't know yourself as fully as your coach does. Bill can see things in training, he knows the work I need to do to be good at a 200 and 400.

"Over the past goodness knows how long it has all been based on the 800 so if we were going to change things he would know whether I would be able to do that sort of stuff and at good quality.

"So I need his opinion on that more than anything, because while I might think 'yeah I could do that' he might be like 'no, I have seen 200 free people, you haven't quite got that.'

"And he is honest enough to say that or he might turn round and say, 'right, I think I can tap into your speed.'

"But that is something I don't know, I have got to get his point of view.

"I can't make this decision on my own, at the end of the day I don't want to train with anybody but Bill.

"It's not like I want to move clubs and try somewhere different. Bill is the only person I want to coach me if I do carry on so I can't make that decision without him."

One factor that may come into play is that Furniss has been linked with the British head coach job following Dennis Pursley's return to the United States, with an appointment set to be made following the review into the team's performance in London.

Should she decide to continue, Adlington could aim for the four and eight-length races at next year's World Championships in Barcelona and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, but she admits London was probably her final 800m freestyle.

The competitive nature that has driven the Mansfield-born swimmer to titles at Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth level means she would not want to go to Rio if she were not a contender.

"I might be a bit past it," she added.

"You've got to be realistic. If I want to go to Rio I want to be there on the podium, I want to be my very best, not just scraping just to make it and then not making a semi or a final.

"I am looking forward to the next few years and what that might bring. I am looking forward to Rio in general, but I just don't necessarily think I shall be there as an athlete."

As well as Adlington's bronze double, the only other British swimming medal came from Michael Jamieson in the 200m breaststroke.

A four-man panel comprising national performance director Michael Scott, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea, Michael Phelps' former coach Bob Bowman and British Swimming board member Craig Hunter is currently reviewing the team's performance with the results due at the end of this month.

For Adlington, though, it has been blown out of proportion.

She added: "I don't think it is this massive negative thing that people are going to go in there and go 'Oh my God, this is crap, this is crap, this is crap.'

"I think people are just going in and saying, 'what do we think has worked, what do we think has not worked, what areas do we need to boost'. I think it is about finding the next step.

"London has been a massive thing that everyone has been looking forward to, the facilities are better, whereas now it's about where can we go from here."

Tomorrow sees Adlington, Jackson, Davenport and Marshall take off for Africa, where they will spend four days cycling from Livingstone to the Zambian capital Lusaka as they look to raise 50,000 for Sport in Action, a non-governmental organisation that looks to inspire change in impoverished communities through sport.

At the Games, Adlington visited Great Ormond Street Hospital and she is expecting to be similarly inspired.

She said: "They were the bravest, most inspirational people you will ever meet and I think it will be the same once we are out there, meeting people that are just not negative, they really inspire you and I think it is going to change all of us.

"For me I am just in my own little world, I am like 'yeah, go off swimming, in my house, getting food, doing this, doing that' and you forget that actually somewhere thousands of miles away someone hasn't got the luxury of a house.

"You forget all of that and I think it makes you realise how fortunate you are and not to moan."