Rebecca Adlington has denied having a relationship with Mark Foster – after the Olympic gold medallist fuelled rumours of romance when she was caught on camera stroking his leg.
Adlington, 27, and ex-world swimming champion Foster, 46, arrived at Tuesday night’s GQ Men of the Year Awards arm in arm, sparking yet more speculation that they are an item.
They prompted rumours while presenting the swimming at the Rio Olympics, when viewers went into a frenzy commenting on the pair’s on-screen chemistry and body language on Twitter.
But Rebecca, who split from husband Harry Needs in March after 18 months of marriage, told the Press Association that the comments were “ridiculous”.
“We laugh about it. We’re not a couple,” she said.
The double gold medallist added: “I touched his leg in the least sexual place you can ever imagine, which is his knee. It wasn’t like I grabbed higher. I needed to get his attention.
“We’ve been friends for 10 years.
“He came to my wedding. There was no ‘industrial strength flirting’.”
She added: “Why can’t a girl be friends with a guy? That really annoys me, especially in the word of sport, especially in swimming.
“We learn how to swim, man and woman, from the age of three.
“We must be dating? Why? Why can’t we just be friends? I’m not going to act differently with a person I’ve been with for 10 years.
“He’s my friend. I hate the fact that nowadays you can’t be friends with a bloke, you have to be together.”
Rebecca also said that, despite her Olympic glory as a swimmer, she now prefers going to the gym rather than the pool.
“Because my body is so used to swimming it doesn’t have an impact like going to the gym does,” she said.
“I just do a quick swim after the gym.”
She said her 15-month-old daughter, Summer, has already taken to the water.
“She loves the pool,” she said.
Rebecca, who cheered on Team GB when they were named Best Team at the GQ awards, said of returning to work after having her baby in June last year: “You’ve got to work hard for what you get. I think it’s a powerful message for Summer.
“And it makes a difference when you love your job.”