Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Billy on the Box: Rebecca Adlington makes surprisingly big splash in Shanghai

It is to be expected that there would have been one or two fluids floating about at the World Swimming Championships but if I were you I’d be careful if you’ve planned a quick dip in China.

Because judging by the Beeb’s coverage at the weekend you could well get quite a surprise in Shanghai and end up with something a lot more unpleasant than a nostrilful of water and a stray pair of Speedos up your hooter.

It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to win gold, but as the countdown continues apace to the Olympics, things didn’t all go swimmingly for our, err, swimmers.

Bucking the trend of glorious failure for GB (Getting Beaten) was the Queen of Chlorine, Rebecca Adlington, and you just knew she’d done well on Saturday. For two reasons: (a) she’s good and (b) she was on first in the highlights so she’d obviously won.

Rather inconsiderately, though, she has turned out to be good in the 800 metres, and edge of the seat stuff it is not.

In the past, some East German competitors have needed to shave again before the race was over but no such problems for our Becky.

Her battle with Denmark’s Lotte Friis was described by Adrian Moorhouse as being ‘like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out’ before presenter Clare Balding told us that the golden girl had her nails especially done for the championships.

So, not really slugging it out like two heavyweights then?

Except Audley Harrison, perhaps, although a quick glance at her Union Jack-decorated cuticles suggested that she’s ready for London 2012 or 1690, depending on your viewpoint.

Clare got to ask our golden girl one question before the satellite packed in, probably overcome with nail varnish fumes, and so it was off to the highlights of the quick races and the never-ending pursuit of the giant strawberry lace that just evades the swimmers’ fingertips.

Then it all turned nasty. Lizzie Simmonds’ hopes shattered by illness.

“She woke up this morning feeling incredibly sick and spent the morning in the bathroom being sick,” Clare told us far too vividly. “It was touch and go.” I bet it was.

From nasty it went to lurid.

Sitting on the other sofa, Mark Foster tried to explain the dangers of food-poisoning but Clare suddenly interjected: “I thought you said you slept with a horse,” much to Foster’s and everyone else’s confusion.

Thankfully the satellite returned before his lawyers protested, but Clare then told us that Becky couldn’t speak to us ‘because she’s away for a urine test.’

Oh come on, you’re just taking the, well, you know what they’re taking.

She then did reappear but the moment had gone and really there would have been a better time for the Beeb to advertise their Big Splash campaign.

Onto Sunday and more unpleasantness.

A surprise silver medal for Hannah Miley and what were we treated to? While being interviewed by Sharron Davies there was a doctor taking blood from her ear — it was never like this on Gladiators.

Still at least there was another gold, this time for Liam Tancock, who got the better of possibly the best name ever to compete in a sport — Aschwin Wildeboer Faber.

I dread to think what he left in the pool, though.

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