3-Time Olympic Medalist Christian Sprenger Retires 6 Months From Rio

Three-time Olympic breaststroke medalist Christian Sprenger has retired from competitive swimming, Swimming Australia announced on Thursday morning. He’s 30 years old

Sprenger cited an injury that cost him most of his 2014 and 2015 seasons as the primary factor in his decision.

“The injury I sustained in 2014 really took a bigger toll on me than I thought it would,” Sprenger said today.

“After returning in 2015, after almost four months out of the water, I worked hard to get back what I had lost, but although I may have thought I wanted it, it wasn’t enough,” Sprenger said. “Towards the end of 2015, my breaststroke just didn’t feel how it used to, and I became more and more frustrated.

“The Olympic gold is the only thing missing from my collection, but in this sport, if the mind and body are not perfectly in sync and focused beyond capacity, the performance will not come. Ultimately for me, I am not there anymore, and although I may be good enough to make the Olympic team, I can’t just be a number on a team, that is not who I am.”

Sprenger is a former World Record holder in the 200 breaststroke in both long course and short course meters, though later in his career he grew more focused on the 100 meter breaststroke

Sprenger won medals in both of his Olympic appearances. In 2008, it was as the silver medalist on Australia’s 400 medley relay, and in 2012 he won bronze on the same relay and added a silver in the individual 100 breaststroke. He came up as the primary victim to Cameron van der Burgh’s admittedly intentional breaking of the rules in the Olympic final in that 100 breaststroke.

Sprenger also is the owner of 6 World Championship medals, including a 2013 gold in the 100 just prior to the injuries began to hit hard; along with two Pan Pac medals and 6 Commonwealth Games medals.

His shoulder injury first came to the attention of the world at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, though he declared after that he was determined to return to 100%.

The announcement couples on the 2013 retirement of Brenton Rickard since the 2012 Games, and leaves 20-year old Jake Packard at the top of a suddenly-thin Australian breaststroke group. Packard currently ranks 5th in the world in the 100 breaststroke in the 2015-2016 season (59.94).

He’ll be a key leg for Australia’s hope at an Olympic medal in the medley relay, coupling with Australia’s freestyle tandem of Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen, plus the emergence of Mitch Larkin as the world’s top backstroker.

“I have been fortunate enough to have many defining moments throughout my career where I have achieved things beyond my own belief,” Sprenger said today, as he reflected on his decade long international career.

“I went into the 2012 Olympics ranked number six in the world and took out the silver medal. But in 2013 taking the world title in Barcelona, was when I felt like I was unbeatable. It wasn’t something people could see, but it was something that I could feel, and that’s all that I needed.”

Read the full comments of Sprenger and others within Swimming Australia in their press release here.

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Swimmer A
7 years ago

Well that’s a bloody shame, isn’t it mate

7 years ago

Sad to see him retire.
But what a career. Back in 13 Larkin was just developing then.
His backstroke times will make that up.
Young David Morgan can swim a high 51for his fly leg and cameron will weave his magic and against the yanks.
Aussies on the day in the top 3 still.
Maybe Gold !

7 years ago

Well dang. I thought he was coming around this Olympic cycle, with the world championship title in ’13 and 58.8 at ’14 Aussie trials despite the injury. Of course with Peaty coming along the chance of him claiming Olympic Gold (even if healthy) greatly slimmed, but I thought he would have definitely have been a great shot for Olympic hardware, and not necessarily just the bronze.

The Aussie medley takes a big hit. In 2013 Sprenger split 58.47 on the silver medal winning relay. In 2015 Jake Packard split 59.16. In a race decided by 0.15 in Kazan, that difference was tremendous.

Reply to  mcgillrocks
7 years ago

This really comes as zero surprise given the scope of the 2014 issues and his 2015 outings. If 50m races WERE Olympic events, he may still have continued but he has not looked capable of being able to break 1min any more.

McGil; Packard didn’t sink the AUS M4XMED in Kazan. That self fired torpedo was the comical ineptitude of the fly leg.

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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