Eamon Sullivan retires from competitive swimming

16 July 2014

SWIMMING: Former world record holder Eamon Sullivan has retired from competitive swimming because of an ongoing shoulder injury.

The former 50- and 100-metre freestyle champion won two Olympic silver medals in Beijing but has been plagued by recent shoulder issues and had to withdraw from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games team.

The 28-year-old was hoping surgery would extend his swimming career until the 2016 Olympics.

"One of the things I'm most proud of throughout my career is overcoming injuries," Sullivan said in a statement.

"I'm at a point where I've had one too many injuries, and it has become too much to manage.

"In the end my body has let me down, so I'm very disappointed, but it's the right time."

After making his debut at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Sullivan realised his potential in Beijing.

He twice broke the world record for the 100 metres freestyle, in the final of the 4 x 100 metres relay and the semi-final of the individual event where he ultimately finished with the silver medal, behind Alain Bernard of France.

He combined with Matt Targett, Andrew Lauterstein and the evergreen Ashley Callus to enable Australia to finish a creditable third behind two teams, United States and France that were laden with top sprinters.

In the medley relay Sullivan, Hayden Stoeckel, Lauterstein and Brenton Rickard took the silver medal, once again behind the United States with Phelps ‘on board’.

In the 50 metres, Sullivan finished fifth behind Cesar Cielo Filho of Brazil who won his country’s first gold medal in Olympic swimming.

Competing at his second Games in London, Sullivan missed out on a medal in the 4 x 100m freestyle team that finished fourth. Sullivan also made the final of the 50m freestyle where he finished eighth in a time of 21.98secs.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said Sullivan’s contribution to the sport over an extended period, covering more than a decade should be acknowledged and applauded.

“Eamon made his debut onto the Australian Swim Team as an 18-year-old in Athens and then ten years later was able to take out the men’s 50m freestyle at this year’s Australian Championships which was a remarkable achievement,” said Anderson.

“As an athlete he’s been the world’s best, which is what we are all striving for as part of the goal to be the best in the world in and out of the pool by 2020. In addition to what he has achieved in the pool, Eamon has at all stages promoted the sport, especially in his home state of WA, where he’s been extremely active across community and grass roots levels.”

Swimming Australia Performance Director Michael Scott said it’s disappointing that Eamon won’t be able to continue his good form from this year and have a crack at a fourth Olympic Games in Rio.

“I think Eamon surprised a lot of people winning the 50m freestyle at Trials this year and gaining selection for the Commonwealth Games team, but that’s just really a testament to the quality of athlete that he is,” said Scott.

“Having not swum since London 2012, and then to be able to produce a world class performance like he did, really showed just how hard he had been working and his professionalism.”

“I’m sure this decision has been a difficult one for him, but as a triple Olympian and individual silver medallist from Beijing in 2008 he has served the sport well and should be proud of his achievements.”

Eamon Sullivan is Australian Swimmer Number 601.

Read Sullivan's Olympic biography here >>

AAP/ Swimming Australia/ olympics.com.au

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