The 2012 London Olympic games were hoped to inspire a new generation of athletes, and while that is not clear either way, it turns out some swimmers were just hanging on for the games before hanging up their costumes.

As the games began there was much hope for a repeated medal success in the aquatic centre and that we could find some new stars making their first appearance. There were some great successes and some disappointments for all sides.

However, within the space of a couple of months some are saying it's the end of the road, and instead of finishing on a high note of medals, they leave feeling proud to have taken part in a home games.

Today, Rebecca Adlington announced to ITV Calendar that she is to stop competitive swimming, while Gemma Spofforth announced her move from competitive swimming to coaching on Friday.

Both swimmers, making a mark of inspiration on the future of GB swimming have done a great thing for the sport and should be proud of themselves. But, will we see many more athletes from all sectors of the games going into retirement before Rio 2016? It has been shown that there is actually a decreased participation in sports in a country that hosted an Olympics by the time the next one is here.

Organisers are hoping that it will be different for us, but with people retiring after they lost on a home stage, as soon as it's over - doesn't really offer much inspiration to the future, in my opinion.

This is a story I would like to develop, by asking them both, as well as other retiring athletes if they would have retired sooner if it wasn't for the Olympics being in this country. i would also look at ask the organising committee and people closely involved if they fear these retirements may alter the legacy left by the games.


Do you not see that a decline in performance will put athletes off continuing? Becky Addlington was beaten by a 15 year old in the 800m final, she was 11 at the time of the last olympics so would have remained under the radar until these Olympics. Addlington won a silver which is an amazing achievement, but a step down from her previous gold. Addlington has recognised that the younger swimmers must start to come through and take her place. So, maybe for all athletes it's not that they were holding out for London, but that they realsied the stages they were at in their careers, personally I'd rather go to Rio anyway!

However, it is probbably to early to argue one way or the other as to whether the games has created the legacy intended. This will be interesting to look into in a few months. 

As a competitive swimmer myself, it comes as no surprise at these announcements. Swimmers have a limited lifespan and most peak at a young age, normally between 16-24. It is very common for swimmers to compete at only two olympic games before retiring - remember this takes up 8 years of a swimmer's life. It takes 10,000 hours of training supposedly to be able to compete at olympic level and after two olympics, it seems fair enough for Adlington to retire. Although she may no longer be competiting, like most ex-swimmers she will probably continue to be involved in the sport through coaching and publicity, and as such continue inspiring young althletes.

 There is a pool (pun unintentional) of talent coming up through the ranks, so we should have no concerns for Rio 2016 -  dont forget the champions for 2016 are still only going be young teens and probably not even appeared on the public radar yet. 

2012: End of the road