Two-time world champion sprinter James Magnussen is officially retiring after an international career that spanned a decade and saw him rack up major medals in the double-digits, Swimming Australia announced in a press release Tuesday.
“I have taken the time to make the best decision for myself moving forward and to do that I wanted to make sure I was in the best space mentally and physically before announcing my retirement,” Magnussen said. “At 28 years of age I feel I could have swum at another Olympic Games, but with the lofty standards I have held myself to over the years and the high expectations I have, I believe now is the right time to step away from the sport.”
Magnussen won back-to-back world championships in the 100 free in 2011 and 2013, becoming the first Australian man to win a world title in that event.
In that time, he also took silver in the 100 at the 2012 London Olympics, just .01 behind gold medalist Nathan Adrian. Following multiple Commonwealth Games gold medals in Glasgow in 2014, he had shoulder surgery in 2015.
He bounced back with a bronze medal on Australia’s 4×100 freestyle relay in Rio in 2016.
“He should be very proud of what he has achieved – very few people in the world have reached these heights in competitive sport,” Swimming Australia president John Bertrand said.
Magnussen ended 2017 as the fourth-fastest Australian in the 100m free (48.68), while also ranked as the third-fastest Aussie 50m freestyler (21.98). With minimal racing in 2018, he closed the calendar year as the fifth-fastest 100m freestyler (48.79) in Australia and the third-fastest 50m freestyler in 22.05.
As of July 2018, Magnussen was “50-50” on retiring before the Tokyo Games.
“Through swimming I have made lifelong friends and created memories that I will treasure forever. The people that I have worked with on a daily basis have been my source of motivation and inspiration,” the six-foot-six Magnussen, also known as “The Missile,” added. “To my strength coaches, sport scientist, biomechanist, mind coach, dietician, manager, masseuse and physiotherapist, I have always been humbled by the time and effort you have invested in my career. You guys kept me smiling every day and hopefully I reciprocated that!”
“To my coaches Mitch and Lach Falvey, Brant Best and Michael Mullens, you have shaped not only the swimmer I am but the man I am. Each of you have been a mentor to me and helped me navigate through the highest highs and lowest lows. I am forever grateful to have had you in my life and I know I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did without your input.”