Federica Pellegrini (Italy) Swimming, 21
In front of a passionate Rome crowd, Italy's Federica Pellegrini became the first woman to break the four minute barrier in the 400 metres freestyle as she swam to the gold medal in the 2009 World Championships. Her time of 3mins 59.15secs turned her into the biggest star of the championships and on to the front cover of Vanity Fair magazine where she appeared painted head to toe in gold paint. She also won the 200 metres freestyle gold medal in a world record time. Her success in Rome was some consolation for her disappointment at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where she arrived as favorite in the 400 metres but could only finish fifth, however she did take gold in the 200 metres. She is also the only Italian swimmer to have set world records in more than one event.