PERTH, Australia, January 3. EAMON Sullivan, a former world record holder in the long course sprint freestyles, is taking a year away from competition to heal from shoulder surgery and contemplate his future in the sport.
Sullivan, 27, told Fox Sports that while he wants to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he's not certain that his body will be able to handle another Olympic cycle. He recently had surgery to repair a torn bicep that he suffered through at the London Olympics, an injury he made public shortly after placing eighth in the 50 free final in London.
Sullivan said that he's planning to continue to train in 2013, but won't commit to any competitions this year as he recuperates physically and mentally. However, that time off could come at a price.
“Four years is a long time the way my body has been,” he said.
Sullivan has been plagued with numerous injuries in his storied career, most notably in his left hip, which has endured surgery five times, most recently in 2010, according to a January 2010 article in the Sydney Morning Herald. He was able to come back from that surgery to help the Australians win the 400 free relay at the 2011 world championships.
Other ailments that have hit Sullivan at the wrong time include an emergency appendectomy during training camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., and a crippling virus two weeks before the 2009 world championships.
Despite the injuries, Sullivan has been regarded as one of the top swimmers in history. He broke the world record in the 100 freestyle twice in 2008 and won three medals at the 2008 Games. He's competed in three Olympics, and making a fourth in 2016 would make him the first Australian male swimmer to do so.
Sullivan's road to 2016 will be full of obstacles, with domestic rivals such as James Magnussen, James Roberts, Cameron McEvoy and Tom D'Orsogna vying for relay spots. With Sullivan sitting out 2013, it's likely he will not be seen in an international competition until the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland or the 2014 Pan Pacific Games in Australia.