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Goddard calls time on his career

25 September 2013

Double Commonwealth champion James Goddard will not defend his titles in Glasgow next summer after deciding to retire from the sport following an international swimming career spanning 12 years.

A three-time Olympian and finalist, Goddard has been an integral part of the British team at every level since 2001 but the 30-year-old feels the time is now right to start a new chapter in his life away from the pool.

"I’ve been a full-time international swimmer since I was 18 and after 12 years it’s time to find new experiences outside of training and competition." - James Goddard Goddard’s first international title came in 2002 at his home pool in Manchester when he won Commonwealth gold in the Men’s 200m Backstroke. He won the title again to add to 200m Individual Medley gold at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealths.

Along the way he has won medals at both European long (50m) and short course (25m) and World short course (25m).

Often regarded as the most talented swimmer of a generation in Britain, Goddard, who holds Commonwealth and British Records, believes he leaves the sport at a time where the next generation are ready and capable of taking over.

“I’m 30 years old now and there’s a lot of good talent coming through who are swimming really well,” said Goddard. “I think everything is set up for me to retire.

“It’s time to find something new in my life.  I’ve been a full-time international swimmer since I was 18 and after 12 years it’s time to find new experiences outside of training and competition.

“I’ve represented my country at three Olympic Games which I’m honoured about but, looking back over such a long career, the one point that stands out for me came in 2002.

“I won the Commonwealth Games in Manchester at just 19. It was in my home town and I was in front of so many family and friends. That was a really special moment for me. I was so young and wasn’t expecting to win gold and a bronze that also followed.”

Goddard will be looking to continue his association with sport within the next phase of his life.

“I definitely want to be involved in sport going forward,” explained Goddard. “It’s always been my life and I want that to continue. I want to take what I’ve learned and put it into something else.

“I’m currently working towards becoming a personal trainer but I’d love to stay involved in swimming hopefully through a role within the media.”

Despite the number of retirements since the London 2012 Olympics, Goddard believes the future of the sport looks bright given the level of performance over the past 12 months of some emerging athletes.

“There are some really young swimmers coming through within British Swimming. The whole sport is getting younger and younger and this helped me to shape my decision,” said Goddard.

“All elite sport is tough but swimming is especially tough at the moment and the fact these guys are coming through in this environment sets the sport up well for the future.”

One of the highest and lowest points in Goddard’s career came at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games when he was promoted from a fourth place finish in the Men’s 200m Backstroke to the bronze medal. This decision was later overturned on appeal against the original disqualification which lead to Goddard’s promotion and the original fourth place finish remains in the history books.

Despite this setback Goddard continued to work towards international success as part of the British team for the best part of a decade.

British Swimming Head Coach Bill Furniss said: “James has been a fantastic servant and ambassador for the sport for so long. He is one of the most talented swimmers that Britain has ever produced and has had a long and wonderful career.

“I’d like to thank James for his valuable contribution to the sport and for the role he has played within the national team where his character will be greatly missed.”  

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