Retirement – it’s a strange word to use when you are only 24 years old, but when you have been in sport for 20 years it starts to make more sense.
At the end of 2016 I retired from professional sport after 18 years as a swimmer and two years as a triathlete. I’ve had my ups and downs but one thing that stayed constant was the support from my family, friends, Disability Sport Fife and of course Scottish Disability Sport. They were my rock and I can’t thank them enough for the support that they have given me. They supported me when I missed selection to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games by 0.02 of a second, something that will always be the biggest disappointment in my sporting career – but also my greatest achievement. It sounds strange, doesn’t it, that something that brought me so much heartache and disappointment can also be my proudest moment in my swimming career, but it really was.
After my swimming career finished in October 2014, I decided I wanted a change of direction. Everyone supported me in my jump to triathlon, on my move south of the border and on my journey to the international stage of triathlon and competing for Great Britain, travelling around the world to places such as Italy, France and the USA. Now, you may think that this all sounds very glamorous and amazing getting to race around the world – which yes of course it was – but for a lot of the time in between the races and when I was back in Loughborough I was very down, during the long lonely days 300 miles from home when I just wanted to be with my friends and my family at home in Fife. There is no place like home. A cheesy saying I know, but in my case it’s true. They helped me get through those down times by visiting me, by FaceTiming me and by always being there when I needed to talk, it meant the world. I also came out as gay at the beginning of 2016, when again my family and friends were hugely supportive.
I am now officially retired from competitive sport, but new doors are opening for me all the time because of sport. I have recently started coaching the Orcas squad at Carnegie Swimming Club and later in the year I am going to be running the Edinburgh Marathon in aid of Cash For Kids Scotland. I have had huge support from Carnegie Swimming Club and Disability Sport Fife in reaching my target of being a swimming coach and I look forward to the challenges ahead.
So really the point I am trying to make in this wee blog is that no matter how successful or unsuccessful you are in sport, the people that help you along the way really matter. Your family, your friends, the organisations, the charities, whoever it is that helps you get to where you want to be, appreciate them and be thankful for them because they are what you remember when you retire.