Monday, July 30, 2007

McLean of New Zealand rules herself out of Beijing Olympics

30th July 2007

North Shore swimmer Hannah McLean has opted out of consideration for next year’s Beijing Olympics.

The Melbourne Commonwealth Games medalist wants to take a break from the sport but may return to top level competition.

McLean said she is unable to give the commitment that is demanded in top level swimming for a tilt at the Olympics. She has had a break after the world championships earlier this year and plans to spend the next year living in Europe after recently becoming engaged.

It is not a move that McLean has taken lightly.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and one that I have taken very seriously. However I am confident that I have made the right choice,” McLean said.

“Although I will not be swimming in Beijing I would like to leave the door open for the possibility of competing again. This is not an official retirement.

“I am now at a stage in my life where I no longer feel that I can give every ounce of myself to swimming. And I believe that it is that unwavering commitment which is necessary to perform at the very highest level.”

McLean has been one of New Zealand's highest ranked international swimmers, securing a bronze medal in the 200m backstroke at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the FINA World Swimming Championships last year. She also holds the Commonwealth Games Championship record over 100m backstroke and was ranked fourth in the world over the distance in the same year.

Her coach Jan Cameron said she backs McLean’s decision but hopes she may return to top level swimmer in the future.

“Hannah has found it increasingly difficult to put everything into swimming and to get a balance in her life that will still allow her to perform to the highest level,” Cameron said.

“Hannah is an absolute perfectionist and anything less than her very best is not good enough. She is the model of a dedicated and committed elite athlete.

“She leaves a big hole in our programme and our relay aspirations but at the same time it opens an opportunity for others to put their hand up.”

McLean said she has enjoyed the opportunities that swimming has provided.

“It’s been an honour for me to swim for New Zealand on the international stage. I have always held the highest expectations of myself in how I go about achieving my personal goals and performing for my country.

“I’ve been humbled by the support of not only my family, friends and sponsors but also by the rapidly increasing group of fierce New Zealand Swimming enthusiasts. There are now so many more kiwis who understand what a tough sport swimming is and how hard it is to break into the international ranks.

“I am also incredibly appreciative of the support of Swimming New Zealand throughout my career. The federation has taken huge strides in how it nurtures and supports its elite swimmers over the last few years.

“I know the personal development and unique experience of swimming will translate into whatever new pathways and challenges I choose to take up in the future.”
Nice messages.

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