For years she has been subjected to cruel taunts about her appearance which she admits have caused ‘lots of tears.’
Now Olympic gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington appears to have resorted to cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of her nose and remove a bump.
The retired swimmer is reported to have undergone the procedure at a Harley Street clinic several weeks ago.
It comes after she broke down during last year’s appearance on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, admitting that she felt conscious of her body when she compared herself to fellow contestant and beauty queen, Amy Willerton.
Afterwards she told the Mail about her long running insecurities about her looks - and the hurt caused by the hateful comments about them.
She said: ‘Every day I look in the mirror and go, “God, I’m not pretty, I’ve got a very big nose. That’s what most of the negative comments on Twitter are about - my nose.
‘People say, “Oh God you look like a dolphin,” or “I didn’t realise they let whales into the Olympics, but at least you should be able to swim faster with a nose like that.’ She added then that she would consider cosmetic surgery, explaining: ‘I couldn’t even float the idea of having a nose job before, because with swimming you only get two weeks a year off.
‘Would I now? I’d probably have it straightened, but it’s got to suit your face.’ Adlington became a national heroine and inspiration to millions of youngsters overnight when she won her first of two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, aged just 19.
At the time, the down to earth teenager lived off just £12,000 a year, relied on her parents to pay for her swimming hats, goggles and costumes and drove to training from her then home in Mansfield in a battered Vauxhall Corsa.
But the vile abuse began soon afterwards, with comedian Frankie Boyle causing outrage on BBC2’s Mock The Week when he described her as looking like someone who’s ‘looking at themselves in the back of a spoon.’
The BBC Trust called his comments ‘offensive’ and ‘humiliating’ but he mocked her appearance again before the London 2012 Olympics when he tweeted she would have an ‘unfair advantage in the swimming by possessing a dolphin’s face.’
In her interview with the Mail in December, Adlington explained she always had a ‘bit of insecurity’ about the way she looked.
She explained: ‘I knew I wasn’t the most attractive girl at school.
‘Even when I’ve been on a night out, no boys would want to talk to me. So those comments hurt... lots of tears.’ Adlington, who was made an OBE in 2009 for services to sport, is now engaged to swimmer Harry Needs, 21.
She retired from swimming after taking two bronze medals at the London Olympics, and now runs the Becky Adlington’s SwimStars’ initiative which encourages children to learn to swim.
Nicky Hutchinson, co author of Body Image In The Primary School, said: ‘There is such pressure to look perfect and social networking sites can exacerbate that, picking over appearance details in an unkind way that might not happen face to face.
‘Children need to be told that most of the images they see are unreal. They need to think about what advertisers are trying to do.
‘Women like Rebecca Adlington and the Winter Olympic winners should provide great role models for our children- as people who have worked hard to achieve a goal and whose bodies have shown strength, dedication and skill.’