Adlington came third behind France’s Camille Muffat and America’s Alison Schmitt despite only qualifying eight for the 400m freestyle final, giving her a tough lane draw, out in lane eight.

“I’m crying because it’s so overwhelming, the crowd,” she said. 

“Twelve years of hard work has gone into that and it’s hard, it was so hard. It’s always the 400m that feels tougher than the 800m.

“I’m so glad I got a medal at a home Games – not many people can say that.

“I know so many people wanted me to get the gold but I’m so pleased with that.

Pre-race favourite Federica Pellegrini could only manage a fifth place finish, as Muffat stormed to a new Olympic record victory.

The 22-year-old poster girl of French swimming impressively managed to hold on to a slim advantage in the back straight as the American closed in to make it a tight finish, with Adlington finishing in clear third.

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