ROME (Reuters) - Federica Pellegrini destroyed her own world record to claim gold in the women’s 400 meters freestyle at the world championships on Sunday despite feeling ill.
The Italian sped through Rome’s open air pool in 3 minutes 59.15 with Britain’s Joanne Jackson second and Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington, who only qualified eighth, finishing third.
“At a certain point, I thought I had lost hope. I went to bed and I thought I had fever,” she told reporters.
“I didn’t take my temperature. I went training and the cold water of the pool brought in down. It was very hard until 10 minutes before the race.”
Pellegrini, one of Italy’s most famous sportswomen thanks to her skill and good looks, swam 4:00.41 at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara last month.
She won the 200 at the Beijing Olympics last year but flopped in the 400 final as Adlington grabbed a surprise gold.
Defending champion Laure Manaudou of France, once involved in a love triangle with Pellegrini, was not competing after taking the year off.
Reporting by Mark Meadows; Editing by Ed Osmond