By Tom Degun

Rebecca_AdlingtonJuly 30 - Beijing 2008 double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington has made history by becoming Britain's first ever freestyle world champion after she claimed a sensational victory in the 800 metre freestyle event on the penultimate day the World Championship in Shanghai.

The 22-year-old from Mansfield was neck and neck with Denmark's defending champion Lotte Friis for almost the entire race but Adlington produced her trademark sprint finish to pull clear in the final 25 metres to win in 8min 17.15sec – the ninth fastest time in history.

Friis took the silver in 8:18.20 with the United States Kate Ziegler – the world champion in the event in both 2005 and 2007 – picking up bronze in 8:23.36.

The victory gave Adlington her second medal of the event after she picked up silver in the 400m freestyle earlier in the week and she admitted the victory had been a long time coming after she missed out on the medals in the 800m freestyle at the last two World Championships.

"I'm so happy to have won a World Championship gold medal," said Adlington, who is the world record holder in the event.

"The last two Worlds didn't go right for me so I'm just really pleased with this win.

"This is why I get up at five in the morning and makes it all worth it.

"I couldn't ask for a better support team and I'm such a lucky girl.

"It was such a tough race – Lotte is an amazing swimmer.

"It felt a bit quicker than the heats going out so I wasn't sure I'd have anything left going back.

"I just told myself I've got two weeks holiday after that so I don't care if I'm aching – it will be worth it."

Britain have now claimed three medals in the pool at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre with Adlington picking up both gold and silver and 19-year-old Ellen Gandy from Bromley claiming silver in the 200m butterfly event earlier this week.

In total, they have four medals at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships as Keri-Ann Payne claimed gold in the open water event just over a week ago with the victory making her the first British athlete to qualify for London 2012 Olympics.

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