Swimmer Liz Johnson has announced her retirement from competitive swimming after an illustrious career in the pool.
The Paralympian has won a medal at three consecutive Paralympic Games, having made her debut in Athens in 2004. Johnson won Gold in the 100m Breaststroke in the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008. Liz was also the first female in the SB6 category to break the 100 seconds barrier for the 100m Breaststroke which was an incredible feat. At London 2012, Liz recorded a season’s best time of 1:40.90 to take the bronze medal in the 100m Backstroke (SB6).
Liz said: “Sport has taught me many life lessons and transferable skills, two of the most important being that “timing is everything” and “everything happens for a reason”. It is with these at the forefront of my mind that I make this announcement today. In December, I underwent surgery for a hernia repair and unfortunately I ended up being out of training for longer than I had envisaged which resulted in me missing a large portion of the crucial winter workload. Since recovering, my team and I have been trying to play catch up but we know my body and we know where I need to be and unfortunately the trials have simply come too soon.
Whilst this presents a big change in my life and the direction that this year will take for me, I can’t be sad. I’ve been extremely privileged to be able to do something that I love and compete at the highest level for almost 20 years. My involvement in swimming has given me so much and the experiences it has provided me with have been influential in shaping me into the person that I am today. I am so grateful for everything that the sport has given me and the opportunities that I have had. I’ve been fortunate to have had many brilliant teammates – lots of whom I’ve grown up with, been with through the extreme highs and lows in my life and many who have become life long friends – some of the best anyone could ever ask for! Swimming has enabled me to travel the world, experiencing different countries and cultures which has helped me grow as a person and an athlete. The Sport has influenced every aspect of my life since I made the decision that I wanted to make it a career and become a Paralympic Champion. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to live in some of the best cities, train at the some of the best clubs and work with some of the most successful coaches that the country has to offer. I’m full of gratitude for Billy Pye, Mark Skimming, Mick Massey and Mark Rose and the clubs that I spent the majority of my career representing – Swim Swansea, University of Bath and City of Manchester (COMAST)- for providing me with the support, tools and the environment to get the most out of myself. I must also say thank you to Kay Hurley for getting me involved in Para-swimming initially and Torfaen Swim Squad for accepting me into their fold and initiating my opportunities to become an elite athlete.”
After a career that has spanned over twenty years Liz has had many supporters and she is eternally grateful to everyone that has had any input into her career. Liz said. “I want to thank my friends and family for their unwavering support and my sponsors EDF Energy and BT for believing in me, supporting my career and providing me with opportunities that have allowed me to grow beyond the pool. I would never have been able to achieve what I have without the support and advice of my medical team Paul Martin and Dr. Derek Martin. I am also grateful for the support and guidance that I have received throughout my career from everyone at Sport Wales, Disability Sport Wales, British Swimming, UK Sport, British Paralympic Association and CP Sport.”
Liz has experienced many wonderful moments throughout her career including becoming 100m Breaststroke Paralympic Champion at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, reading the Athlete’s oath at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and winning a medal at a home Paralympic Games.
Liz is now looking to the future and outside of the pool with a number of exciting opportunities already in place for 2016.
“I love the quote, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened” (Dr. Suess). As this chapter ends, I am looking forward to being able to devote more of my time to making a difference in the lives of others and helping to develop the Para-sport movement further especially as a member of the board of Disability Sport Wales. I am excited to build on my experiences in broadcasting and as a corporate speaker and this will begin later this month as I will be commentating for Channel 4 at the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championship from 30th April to 7th May in Madeira. In addition, I will continue my work as an athlete mentor with the Youth Sport Trust and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust as well as continuing to work with the charities that I support.”