Olympic silver medallist Brooke Hanson finally stepped off her rollercoaster of a career by announcing her retirement from swimming – just eight months out from the Beijing Games.
The 29-year-old has faced a multitude of challenges during her career and this year alone had to deal with suffering an electric shock, a shoulder injury and her coach Mark Thompson successfully fighting molestation charges.
The dramas have put a massive strain on the bubbly breaststroker and Hanson said she had lost her the hunger for the pool some 13 years after first making an Australian swimming team.
“I now know that my heart, my mind and my body have decided it is time for the next chapter in my life,” she said.
Hanson said she wasn’t completely sure if she would have quit the sport if she hadn’t suffered the electric shock in June at a spa show in Melbourne that put her Olympic preparations well behind schedule.
But after putting her TV ambitions ahead of swimming before this year’s world championships, Hanson wasn’t likely to have had a major impact in Beijing anyway.
She claimed a memorable silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2004 Athens Olympics following the gut-wrenching experiences of just missing out on the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games.
She collected six gold medals at the 2004 world short-course championships but said the highlight of her career was just making the Athens Olympic team.
“The highlight for me was after missing ’96 and missing 2000, touching that wall at the Olympic trials in 2004,” he said.
“Just realising that I was after all those hurdles and so much pain of having never been an Olympian and having lived my life like an Olympian.
“To touch that wall and to become an Olympian in 2004 was more of a highlight than the Olympic Games and anything else.”
Hanson received an Olympic gold medal for her heat swim for the Australian 4x100m medley relay in Athens.
There was controversy surrounding the relay as the breaststroke leg in the final was handed to Leisel Jones, who had finished behind Hanson in the 100m final.
The two had a much-publicised spat that was patched up.
Jones subsequently recovered from her disastrous performances in Athens to dominate the breaststroke world.
Hanson said that without Jones she would never have made an Olympic podium.
“It was because she was in the sport that made me lift so much to make that Olympic team,” Hanson said.
“What happened in 2004 has made her a stronger, better person and next year I will be cheering her on to get gold in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke because I know how passionate she is about it and how hard she trains.
“I thank her for all the success I had in 2004 because without her I would not have achieved Olympic medal status.”
Hanson planned to have some time off to think about her future but said she was keen on a career in TV.