Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 11, 2008
The long range favourites were the defending world and Olympic [Laure Manaudou] of France and the European champion [Federica Pellegrini] of Italy. Late in 2007 Manaudou's preparations for Beijing were hampered by the publicity generated by the leak onto the internet of an intimate video showing Manadou and boyfriend [Luca Marin]. The scandal was elevated by the fact that Manadou and Marin had now broken up and he was now in a relationship with Pellegrini.
Another factor in the equation for Beijing was American's [Katie Hoff] who was being touted in the media as )the female Michael Phelps) and was expected to challenge for six medals at the Games. Hoff took the initiative by setting an Olympic record in her heat but it only lasted a matter of minutes before Pellegrini set a new mark. Manadou also made the final but only as the slowest of the eight qualifiers.
For the first part of the race no one appeared willing to take on the pace. An attempt by Manadou to break clear soon floundered and it was not until after half way that the first serious move of the race took place. Katie Hoff pushed ahead and enjoyed a healthy lead with 50 metres to go but as she faded the rest of the pack closed up and in the final strokes [Becky Adlington] of Great Britain burst through to win the gold medal. Adlington, who was known more for the performances over 800 metres, had never been better than fourth before the final turn but timed the final sprint to perfection to become the first British swimming champion since 1988. Another Briton, [Jo Jackson], placed third with Pellegrini paying the price for a slow start back in fifth.