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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Australian ‘swimming queen’ Campbell retires

One of Australia’s most celebrated swimmers has announced her retirement from the sport after failing to qualify for this year’s Olympics in Paris.

Cate Campbell announced that it was “time to officially say goodbye to the dream I have had since I was 9 years old,” in a social media post on Wednesday, a week after bowing out of the Australian Olympic Trials in Brisbane.

Campbell missed out on what would have been her fifth Games team when she fell short of qualification for the 100m and 50m freestyle events.

A veteran of four Olympics, she has won eight Olympic medals, broke seven world records and is one of the most recognisable faces in Australian sport.

“While there are many conflicting emotions, especially because it did not end exactly how I had hoped, I am still able to look back without regret,” she said.

“I gave the pursuit of a 5th Olympics everything I had, and therefore, even in failure, there is a small, indelible kernel of pride.”

The 32-year-old – who first made waves as a teenager competing at the Beijing Games – has won 37 major international medals, 23 of them gold.

Credited as one of the best relay swimmers of all time, most of Campbell’s medals have been won in team events – including gold medals for the 4x100m free relay in the last three Olympics, all achieved in world-record times.

She has also been praised as a role model and mentor for her peers, including her younger sister Bronte who she has swam alongside in numerous international competitions.

The pair have trained together since they were children, and both famously fought through viral fatigue after suffering from glandular fever to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

“When we were 7 and 9 years old, we sat in the back of the car planning on what we’d do if we ever went to an Olympic Games together,” the younger Campbell wrote in a tribute to her sister.

“Little did we imagine that we’d go to three Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and three World Championships together. Sometimes reality is even better than how it was imagined.”

When Campbell finished her final swim in front of a sold-out crowd in Brisbane last week, her teammates immediately entered her lane to embrace her in the water.

“This is the end, and it’s a perfect way to exit the pool,” she said through tears.

Tributes have continued to flood in from some of the nation’s most recognisable athletes and powerful sporting bodies.

“Cate has really set up this for a lot of us women,” the reigning freestyle world champion Mollie O’Callaghan said.

“She set the standards, and she’s one of the most inspirational women, in and out of the water.”

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