Olympic Silver Medalist Christian Sprenger Retires Due to Shoulder Injury Aftermath

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Christian Sprenger, a major cog in the Australian breaststroke group as a world champion and Olympic silver medalist, announced his retirement via Swimming Australia after being unable to overcome the aftermath of a 2014 shoulder injury.

Swimming Australia Press Release:

World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Christian Sprenger has today announced his retirement from competitive swimming after almost a decade on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team.

The effects of a shoulder injury suffered in 2014 has taken its toll as Sprenger tried desperately to mount one final campaign for this year’s Rio Olympics.

With less than 200 days until the Games begin, the dual Olympian from Beijing and London said the time was right to make the difficult decision to retire from the sport that had given him so much.

“The injury I sustained in 2014 really took a bigger toll on me than I thought it would,” Sprenger said today.

“After returning in 2015, after almost four months out of the water, I worked hard to get back what I had lost, but although I may have thought I wanted it, it wasn’t enough.

“Towards the end of 2015, my breaststroke just didn’t feel how it used to, and I became more and more frustrated.

“The Olympic gold is the only thing missing from my collection, but in this sport, if the mind and body are not perfectly in sync and focused beyond capacity, the performance will not come.

“Ultimately for me, I am not there anymore, and although I may be good enough to make the Olympic team, I can’t just be a number on a team, that is not who I am.”

A dual Olympian and three-time world championship and Commonwealth Games representative, Sprenger made his debut on the Australian Swim Team almost a decade ago at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

It didn’t take long for the breaststroker to become a dominant force on the team and in 2009 Sprenger set his first world record.

At the 2012 London Olympics Sprenger realised a lifelong dream when he won individual Olympic silver in the 100m breaststroke and in 2013 was crowned FINA world champion, again in the 100m breaststroke.

At the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, at the height of the super-suit era, Sprenger clocked 2:07.31 in the semi-final of the 200m breaststroke (currently the fourth fastest time in the world) to set a new world record in the event and he went on to collect the bronze medal in the final.

In May 2010, Sprenger set the world record in the 200m breaststroke short course and held both world marks for the same event simultaneously.

After the Commonwealth Games in 2010 Sprenger made the decision to drop the 200 metre event from his program to focus his attention on the 100m breaststroke and the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games.

It was a decision that proved pivotal when the Simon Cusack coached swimmer won the silver medal in his pet event, finishing just a touch behind South Africa’s Cameron Van Der Burgh.

Sprenger’s rise up the ranks of international swimming culminated at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona when he won gold in the 100m breaststroke and silver in the 50m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay at the same meet.

Barcelona became one of many career highlights for Sprenger who said at the time he felt “unbeatable”.

“I have been fortunate enough to have many defining moments throughout my career where I have achieved things beyond my own belief,” Sprenger said today, as he reflected on his decade long international career.

“I went into the 2012 Olympics ranked number six in the world and took out the silver medal. But in 2013 taking the world title in Barcelona, was when I felt like I was unbeatable. It wasn’t something people could see, but it was something that I could feel, and that’s all that I needed.”

Sprenger’s time of 58.79 from his world championship final, still stands inside the top ten of all time.

Simon Cusack, who started coaching Sprenger in 2010, said the switch in focus to the sprint event was a tough but rewarding process and that the partnership he forged with Sprenger was an honest one.

“Both his results at the London 2012 Olympics and Barcelona in 2013 stand out to me as his career highlights, as in both instances he swam life time best performances in the final when it counted,” Cusack said.

“Christian’s greatest strength as an athlete was his ability to bring whatever he had on the day to the table.

“It was a partnership of honesty. Partnerships like these are hard to beat and are often only brought down by the injuries that come with the demands of a long career in the pool.

“During the last month of Christian’s time in the training pool, after we had discussed his retirement, I spent time just watching him execute his stroke.

“For me, it was the end of an era, and an era which I had the privilege of guiding this young man to the lofty heights of being the best in the world at his chosen craft.”

Sprenger’s love affair with the sport of swimming began when he started racing competitively at club level at the age of seven and never looked back.

From club level swimming Sprenger moved his way up the national ranks and began a friendly rivalry with one of Australia’s greatest breaststrokers, Brenton Rickard.

Rickard and Sprenger often took turns atop the podium at National events with Sprenger tallying up to ten individual Australian titles in his career across the 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke events.

Sprenger said his races with Rickard and the people he met along his swimming journey make up some of his fondest memories.

“As I developed within Australia, I had some of the greatest races with Brenton Rickard, I was training alongside some of the biggest names in the business with Libby Trickett, Leisel Jones, Cate and Bronte Campbell and then as I made international teams I met some amazing people, and impressive competitors,” Sprenger said.

“I also met the love of my life Amelia Evatt-Davy in 2007. So undoubtedly, I will remember so many aspects of this sport, as it has made me who I am today.

“I am now discovering life outside of the pool, as it is quite new to me! But I am working on a couple of ideas that may keep me in touch with the swimming world – I am ready for new challenges.

“I want to say thank you to everyone that has been involved with my swimming career in some way whether it was a major, or minor contribution, it was all part of the experience.

“My Coaches; Michael Bohl, who very early on discovered my breaststroke ability, Stephan Widmer, who showed me what is was like to push my body and mind, to the limit, and finally, Simon Cusack who harnessed my strong base, and integrated a specialised sprint culture that enabled me to fully develop in my final years on the international stage.

“I also want to thank my wife Amelia, all of my training partners, friends and family, and of course my sponsors; who have been so supportive, I would not be anywhere without them.

“And finally, to Mum and Dad, who were there at the beginning, and were there all the way up until the end. It has been an amazing ride.”

Christian Sprenger Photo Gallery:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6 Comments

6 comments

  1. Ant Oine

    Un adversaire de moins pour Vincent Dassié

Author: Jason Marsteller

avatar
Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

Current Swimming World Issue


Trouble Viewing on Smart Phones, Tablets or iPads? Click Here