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Leighton says goodbye to water polo

20 November 2013

Olympic water polo captain Fran Leighton has announced she is to retire from the sport that she has been a part of for more than 15 years.

Leighton has dedicated half her life to competitive Water Polo and has competed at every level of the sport including the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"To compete you have to put everything else second and I think it's time to change that," - Fran LeightonShe also competed with British teams at the 2003 World Championships and 2012 European Championships as well as English teams at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Championships, winning bronze at the former in front of a home crowd in Manchester.

The highlight of her career came when she led Team GB to action in London and showed how far the sport had come in their development.

The Rotherham-born athlete also coached younger athletes in the sport and was a shining example of giving something back to the sport you loved.

“I've played GB water polo since I was 13 or 14 years old which is such a long time,” Leighton said. “I've loved living in Manchester but to compete you have to put everything else second and I think it's time to change that. I also have a great job working for England Rugby 2015 as part of the team services for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

“I have many highlights including winning the junior ASA championships with Rotherham Metro which will always be one of my favourite water polo moments along with leading the team for 11 years as captain and also that little Olympic competition we played in last year. 

“There are many things I won’t forget about my time in water polo. The team talk after everyone on the team gave everything during our quarter final game at the Olympics was tough but I’ll never forget it.”

Leighton will join the Performance Management Group for Water Polo which will see her involved with shaping the future of the sport.

“I still play and train locally with London Otter Water Polo Club and compete in the national league,” Leighton added. “Also I am a going to be joint team manager for one of the England talent squads with Olympian Beckie Kershaw which will be good fun. I still love playing water polo so it's great to stay involved.” 

National Performance Director Graeme Thompson said: “Fran has been a great leader in GB Women’s Water Polo, in and out the pool and in every sense. Of course, this culminated in her being the first ever Captain of a GB women’s team at an Olympics. I am very pleased that she will continue to contribute to the sport in a significant manner.”

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