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Happy Graham hangs up her goggles

16 May 2006

Dual Olympian Elka Graham has announced her retirement from international swimming.

Speaking on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program today the 24-year-old said she had no regrets and knew it was the right time.

“It’s been a tough three months making this decision. It (swimming) is what I have done my whole life and nothing else. But I’m ready for the next phase of my life and I am so happy with what I've achieved,” Graham said.

Graham made her Australian team debut at the Sydney Olympics winning a silver medal in the 4x200m freestyle.

She was a key member of the Australian team for the four years until Athens where she was 9th in the individual 200m and 4th in the 4x200m relay. It was her only major meet where she failed to medal.

Graham was clear on the swimmers that had impressed her the most throughout her career she said.

“American Lindsay Benko is a fierce competitor and a champion in and out of the water. Grant Hackett is the hardest trainer I have ever seen. And Brooke Hanson is always so positive and a great roommate,” she said.

She also credited her time training with Brian Sutton and the Sydney University Club in 2003 as the period when she grew the most as a person and a swimmer.

Like most elite athletes Graham’s career had its up and downs.

In late 2001 she briefly held the world No.1 ranking in the 200m freestyle. However, leading into the 2003 world titles she was diagnosed with a blood pressure condition and dramatically fainted on the medal dais while collecting a relay medal. In 2005 she underwent hip surgery that kept her out of the World Championships. She also missed selection for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games after failing to get swim at her best in the Trials.

The desire to get back onto the National Team for the 2007 Melbourne World titles and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was no longer there.

Graham who has been working as a freelancer with Foxsports and the other major networks hopes to continue her career in television.


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