British Paralympic champion Ollie Hynd has announced that he is taking a break from competitive swimming after being reclassified.
“Unfortunately I have had to make a really difficult decision following on from a challenging few years, regarding my classification and of course the impact that Covid has had on us all, as elite athletes,” Hynd wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “For the moment, I will be stepping away from the programme and competitive swimming to focus on other initiatives and to ensure that my health and wellbeing are the main priority moving forward.”
“I would wholeheartedly like to thank my sponsors, teammates, coaching team and more importantly supporters, who have been instrumental in every achievement I have made in and out of the pool.”
“Although Tokyo 2021 isn’t my short term swimming plans, you never know what may be around the corner. Thank you again to all for being alongside me in what has been an awesome time!”
— Ollie Hynd MBE (@olliehyndgb) May 6, 2021
Hynd represented Great Britain at both the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games, winning gold medals in the S8 200 IM and S8 400m freestyle. However, at the Denmark Para World Series stop in 2018, Hynd was reclassified into the S9 category, meaning he would be racing less-impaired swimmers than he was in the S8 category. Although he appealed his reclassification in June 2018, he was later subjected to further testing and moved back to the S9 class before the 2018 Para Swimming European Championships.
At the time of his initial reclassification, Hynd released a statement saying he was “heartbroken and confused.”
Hynd has neuromuscular myopathy and several associated limb deformities. Neuromuscular myopathy is a degenerative condition, which weakens the muscles in Hynd’s legs.
Hynd’s reclassification came amid a new classification process implemented by the World Para Swimming Association on January 1, 2018, which required all athletes to undergo a new classification test. Although it was designed to combat the practice of intentional misrepresentation, the new system has led to several notable controversies, including the reclassification of 14 time Paralympic medalist Andre Brasil, who was recently ruled ineligible to compete due to missing the qualification criteria for para swimming by 1 point. Other swimmers who have retired over the new system include 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist Amy Marren and Britain’s Matt Wylie.