WELLINGTON, New Zealand, March 15. TWO-time Olympic swimmer Melissa Ingram has decided to retire from elite sport after 10 years on the national team.
Courtesy of: O Sports via USA Today Sports
Courtesy of: O Sports via USA Today Sports
The Commonwealth Games and World Championship medallist has decided made the tough decision to bid farewell to a sport that she has competed in for the last 20 years.
She is joined by fellow London Olympian Carl O'Donnell who has also decided to retire, with the pair making their announcements on the eve of the State New Zealand Championships starting in Auckland on Sunday.
Ingram, 27, said it is the right time to move on.
"It's not a decision that I have made lightly," Ingram said. "My whole life has been dedicated to swimming, but I know that I have left no stone unturned and I leave the sport with no regrets.
"I always gave 100 percent. It's been an incredible journey, full of highs and lows, and it's shaped me into the person I am today."
Ingram burst onto the international swimming scene in 2002 when she qualified for her first Commonwealth Games final in the 200m backstroke at the tender age of 17. She won the bronze medal in the 200m backstroke at the world short course championships in USA in 2004.
Ingram went on to anchor the women's 4x200m Freestyle Relay at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games where she clinched the bronze medal from Canada by two hundredths of a second, before breaking the Commonwealth Games record in the 200m backstroke Delhi in 2010.
She finished 11th in the 200m backstroke in New Zealand record time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was a regular on the World Cup circuit, amassing 44 podium finishes throughout her career.
"I've been so lucky throughout my career to have been supported by so many amazing people. My family have stuck by me through thick and thin, my parents always ready to reach back into their wallets to pay for another suit or overseas trip in my younger years. My friends and team-mates always had my back and my coaches consistently went the extra mile to help me."
"Swimming is a hard sport to secure sponsorship for because it doesn't get a lot of exposure. I'm incredibly grateful to Moyes Panmure car dealership, Speedo swim apparel, and the North Harbour Club for their continued support over the years."
The double Olympian managed to balance her competitive swimming career with her studies and graduated from the University of Auckland last year with a Bachelor of Arts. Her passion is communications/public relations and is excited for the future.
O'Donnell, 25, made his way on to the international scene at the Oceania Championships in 2008 and the following year to the World University Games in Belgrade as a specialist sprinter.
O'Donnell, who was part of the North Shore club and Swimming New Zealand's High Performance squad under Scott Talbot, competed in the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010 and his second World University Games in 2011 in China. He became a key member of the men's medley relay team at the London Olympics last year, producing his fastest-ever 100m split with the team narrowly missing out on a place in the final.
O'Donnell was a multi national champion and relay record holder.
Swimming New Zealand have praised the accomplishments of both swimmers.
"Both Melissa and Carl have made a real mark on the sport in this country for many years and they can both be proud of what they have achieved both in and out of the pool," said Swimming New Zealand GMO, Mark O'Connor.
"Melissa has been on the podium at a world championship and only a few months ago had a number of victories on the FINA World Cup circuit and both have competed at Olympic level.
"Swimming is a true world sport and to succeed in it from New Zealand takes tremendous commitment and dedication. Both Melissa and Carl led the way in this respect and both will no doubt be able to use these attributes to make a successful contribution to this country in whatever paths they follow in the future."
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