Swimming - Dalling excited to follow in Adlington's footsteps in Utrecht

Rebecca Dalling can't wait for the European Youth Olympic Festival as she prepares to follow in the footsteps of national idol and personal hero Rebecca Adlington.

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Swimming - Dalling excited to follow in Adlington's footsteps in Utrecht
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Rebecca Adlington waves to the crowd at London 2012 (Reuters)

Ten years after double Olympic gold and bronze medallist Adlington announced herself to the swimming world with two silvers at the 2003 European Youth Olympic Festival, Dalling will bid to do the same after being selected as part of a 44-strong British team that will head to Utrecht.

Over 2300 of the finest young sportspeople from across the continent will descend on the Netherlands with Dalling set to compete in the 100m and 200m freestyle events as well as being part of the relay squads.

And with the knowledge that Adlington's first major championship was the 2003 European Youth Olympic Festival in Paris, 14-year-old Dalling admits she couldn’t be more excited about the week ahead.

"Rebecca Adlington is my hero and it would be so great if I could follow in her footsteps," she said. "I just love how she is so confident and she just goes out and swims really strongly.

"I think there are between five to eight girls on the team. I'm the only one from Wales so I feel very proud to be the only one. I will be swimming to make everyone in Wales proud.

"I swam at the British International Meet in Leeds in March. I got some personal bests from that and I think that's what helped get me on the team for Great Britain.

"Hopefully I can just get some personal bets in the Netherlands and see where it gets me."

Team GB consists of 44 athletes aged 13-17 years old who will compete in cycling, gymnastics, judo, swimming and tennis and test themselves against more than 2300 of the finest young sportspeople from 48 other countries across the continent.

And, while Dalling knows she has a lot of hard work ahead of her in the Netherlands, she hopes this European Youth Olympic Festival is the first step towards one day featuring on the biggest stage of all, the Olympic Games.

"My aim is to win some medals and get on the podium," she added. "But my long-term aim is to get to the Olympics.

"It would just be amazing to do that. My friends and family are all really excited and really proud."

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