Rebecca Adlington’s Olympic room mate, Jessica Sylvester, has told Impact Sport that she has set her sights on emulating the double gold medalist’s achievements in 2012. The Nottingham Bio-Chemistry student swam in the 4x100m relay final in Beijing where team GB came 7th but still took home a new British record which had stood since 2000.
Yet Sylvester was almost left to watch the spectacle at home along with the rest of us. Although she finished in the top four at the Olympic Trials in April, Melanie Marshall (who was disqualified for not signing in for the final on time) was actually quicker on paper, making Sylvester only 5th fastest. “The management felt that they had to go with the fastest four swimmers on paper to make the final,” Sylvester explained. “[In Beijing] I had the opportunity of a time trial straight after the relay heats on my own in the Olympic pool to try and post a time faster than any of the heat swimmers. I swam a 0.5 seconds personal best and managed to swim faster than Julia Beckett so was reinstated for the final”.
Once given the opportunity to compete at the Olympics, the Nottingham student certainly made the most of it. “The atmosphere was like nothing I have ever experienced,” she revealed. “The Chinese team were in our final and had a medal chance so the crowd were going wild. It was quite an emotional moment as it all could have been so different had I not got into the team.” And it was not only in the pool that Sylvester got to experience the Olympic lifestyle; she also absorbed as much as she could from the Olympic Village, “it was like walking around Hollywood or LA! The USA basketball team were regulars at McDonalds, I also met Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Usain Bolt.”
The biggest name to come out of the ‘Cube’, from a British point of view, has to be Rebecca Adlington and even though she is now a massive star, to Jess she is just one of the girls, “I was sharing a room with Becky and it was quite normal to be honest! We know each other really well and I think it was nice for her to come back to the room and relax after all of her media commitments. To everyone else she’s a double Olympic Champion world record superstar but to me she’s just Becky!”
For Sylvester, as for many of the young British team who over-achieved, Beijing was just a taster of the real thing and a preparation for when the games come to our shores in London 2012. The down to earth swimmer is looking forward to big things, “I am definitely aiming for a medal in London, whether it be in the relay or individual. Seeing what Becky has achieved has been so inspiring and shows that with hard work and dedication it can be done.”