Swimmer Hanna-Maria Seppälä will swim in one final international competition this week in Canada before officially retiring from the sport.
“The idea of ending (my competitive swimming career) has been on my mind for some time, especially as last summer before the Rio Olympics was a very difficult time for me,” said Seppälä in a press release.
“At the end of July before the Rio Olympics I made the decision that the year 2016 would be my last competitive one. It was a very liberating decision,” says Seppälä, who turns 32 next week.
First Olympics at 16
Seppälä first participated in the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and went onto win a gold medal at the World Championships in Barcelona in 2003. Among the many medals and awards during her almost 20-year career, she was also the Finnish flag carrier at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012.
“I won’t stop swimming as a hobby.... As I close the door on a competitive sports career, many other doors will open,” said Seppälä.