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Olympic swimmer Gráinne Murphy retires at the age of 22
The Wexford athlete won a silver medal at the European Championships in 2010.

IRISH SWIMMER GRÁINNE Murphy has this evening announced her decision to retire from international competition after a series of injury setbacks.

Grainne Murphy Cathal Noonan / INPHO Murphy represented Ireland at London 2012. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The 22-year-old represented Ireland at the 2012 London Olympics and up until November was pushing for qualification for this summer’s Games.

However a serious lung infection hindered her training and the Wexford-born athlete has opted to call time on her career and concentrate on completing her studies at the University of Limerick.

In a statement released via Sport Ireland, Murphy said she reached a ‘crossroads’ last November.

“After thinking long and hard I have finally come to the decision to hang up my hat and goggles at international level,” Murphy said.

“I have had many amazing memories and experiences during my years as a high performance swimmer and I will treasure them for the rest of my life.

“The highlights for me included winning three gold and a bronze medal at the European Junior Championships in 2009. Following this I competed in my first senior competition at the World Championships in Rome where I just missed out on a semi-final.

“2010 marked my first year on the senior stage and I won a silver medal in the 1500m freestyle and was just pipped for a bronze medal in the 800m freestyle at Senior European Championships in Budapest.

“Unfortunately tough times followed for me as most swimmers and sports people would understand. I had to undergo shoulder surgery which took me out of the pool for quite some time. I managed to recover from that well and qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games.”

Swimming - Ireland Team arrive from European Championships - Dublin Airport PA Archive / Press Association Images Murphy with her silver medal from the 2010 European Swimming Championships. PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Although Murphy realised a lifelong dream to qualify for the Olympics, she suffered disappointment in London as a bout of glandular fever hampered her performance.

A below-par swim in the 400m freestyle heats saw her record a time of over 10 seconds slower than her personal best. Illness then forced her to withdraw from the biggest competition of her career.

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“Quite publicly, things did not go well for me in in 2012 when I suffered from glandular fever which forced me to withdraw after the heats of the 400 freestyle at the Games,” the statement continued.

“It was a slow road to recovery and in 2014 things finally improved. I then made the decision to move to France to train. Living in another country was an amazing life experience. I made some lifelong friends and trained with top class swimmers.

“I reached a crossroads in November of 2015. I suffered a severe lung infection that took a long time to recover from. I realised that while I might make an Olympic Qualification time for Rio, I did not feel like I would be competitive at the Games.

“I have always maintained that if I go to a major championship I want to be at the top of my game and in the mix.

“Currently I am finishing my studies in exercise and health fitness in the University of Limerick. I am excited for what the future may hold for me and I would love to work in the sports industry in some way.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to all the organisations and people that helped me during my career. I am grateful for the support received from Swim Ireland, Sport Ireland, The Irish Institute of Sport, The Olympic Council of Ireland, Castletroy College, The University of Limerick and UL Sport.

Grainne Murphy Cathal Noonan / INPHO Murphy says she hopes to pursue a career in the sports industry. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“Most importantly thanks a million to my family and friends who have supported me during my career day in and day out.”

Commenting on Murphy’s retirement, John Treacy, CEO Sport Ireland, hailed the swimmer’s achievements.

“Personally and on behalf of Sport Ireland I want to wish Grainne every best wish in her retirement from sport,” he said.

“She was an exceptional swimmer blessed with great athletic ability, work ethic and ability to perform on the big stage. Gráinne won medals at junior and senior level and no doubt she would have won many more except for injury and illness.

“Today is a day for remembering and celebrating her achievements and acknowledging her contribution to Irish swimming.”

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