I knew after Rio that I could be ready to step away from competitive sport, but I needed a few months to think things over and to use some time to come to a decision. I want to leave at the top – undefeated European Champion over 6 years and Paralympic champion in the 50m Butterfly at Rio 2016. From fourth in London, to Gold in Rio, it was a journey of learning, challenges and ultimately immense happiness. Being awarded an MBE recently in the New Year’s honours was a final perfect way to round off 8 years at the top. I leave the sport with 30 international medals and I am proud of my swimming career. It is time for me to step away and to allow other areas of my life to develop as I am getting involved more and more with external projects. I always knew that the day would come when I would want to move on and to return to developing myself into a future leader and to use the other professional skills that I have developed alongside competing as an elite athlete. I feel honoured to have represented my country, to have made it to the top of the podium many times and lucky to have raced against the best. I wish them and the rest of the Paralympic movement huge amounts of luck and success in the future, I really believe strongly in the Paralympics and everything it represents and I hope to remain involved in sport for years to come.
I want to thank the people I have met, the coaches and staff that I have worked with and the incredible people I have raced against over the years. I will miss the incredible moments with my lovely team mates, but I will never forget the amazing memories that we shared. I will never stop swimming; I love it too much, but for now, my racing days are over. Thank you to my family and friends who have supported me and to Steve Bratt, Ron Philpot and Terry Smith at the start of my career and Tony Beckley at the end for all their help. And to Keith Morgan, who has trained me in the gym since day one.
“What appears to be the end, may really be a new beginning”