4-time Olympian from the Netherlands, Inge Dekker, has announced her official retirement from the sport of swimming. The 30-year-old Dutch sprinter has been on the international swimming map for the last 15 years, which includes her having been an integral member of the Dutch squad’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the past 4 Olympic Games, winning a bronze in Athens, gold in Beijing and silver in London.
In her Facebook post announcing her retirement, Dekker acknowledges that she had decided back in London that Rio 2016 would indeed be her last Games. However, she couldn’t have foreseen the rocky road her journey would become, as she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in February of this year. Less than a month later she underwent surgery, putting her 2016 Olympic dream temporarily on hold while she recovered.
Remarkably, even after undergoing the emotional and physical turmoil of the cancer diagnosis, Dekker was named to her nation’s 17-strong Olympic roster for Rio, where she made it to the semi-finals of the women’s 50m freestyle, finishing 16th overall. She also raced on the Dutch women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, which wound up 4th in the Rio final.
In an exclusive interview with SwimSwam prior to the 2016 Games, when asked if she would compete past Rio, Dekker responded “I’m not sure yet. I will decide after Rio. I have started a small swimming school with one of my younger sisters. It’s called USWIM and I give that more time after the Olympics for sure. I might continue swimming but I will not decide until after Rio. The love of swimming has made me successful. And I still love what I’m doing everyday. I see swimming as a little puzzle. Every year you set new goals and you are trying to put all the little pieces together throughout the season.”
In her Facebook post released today and seen below, Dekker says (translated) that simply making it to Rio was “one of the greatest achievements of my career.” She says, “even though we ended up in 4th place, I’m proud I was able to compete for medals.”
On a personal note, Dekker apologizes for missed birthdays and parties with her family, but says “from now on, everything will be different!”
“It’s time for new challenges,” Dekker concludes.