British swimmer Ellie Robinson insists she does not want to be a “story of sorrow and heartbreak” after effectively calling time on her career due to an ongoing hip condition.
The 20-year-old failed to defend her Paralympic butterfly title on Monday, finishing fifth in the S6 50m event she won in Rio at Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Robinson was diagnosed with Perthes disease in her right hip in 2012, a rare childhood condition which occurs when the blood supply to the head of the femur is temporarily disrupted.
She believes “95 per cent of people” in her position may not have made the current Games after the condition deteriorated last year.
“These hips have a finite amount of time left in them and for me, that just happened to be last year when I ran out of time,” she said.
“Had the Games been last year, it would have been a very different story, I was swimming incredibly well.
“I remember saying even if I have to crawl to the blocks on my hands and knees, I will get there.
“I have had people telling me all the way back in December I can finish now but I remember screaming back at them saying: ‘I am not going to bow out. I am not going to quit. I am finishing on my terms’.
“Even though I have deteriorated physically – my hip is in a very bad way – I think I am mentally stronger than ever, I am so proud of where I am.
“I don’t want this to be a story of sorrow and heartbreak, I want this to be a story of triumph because it is.
“I finished on my own terms and proved to myself that I had it in me and I think, I don’t want this to come across arrogantly, but I think had 95 per cent of people been in the same situation I had then they could have quit.”
Robinson’s Twitter bio reads ‘Girl with the huge coat in Rio’ after a swaggering walk on in Brazil five years ago grabbed headlines.
Aged just 15, she won a gold and bronze at her debut Games before being named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
— ParalympicsGB (@ParalympicsGB) June 30, 2021
She expects to undergo a future hip replacement and is currently studying for a history and politics degree as she prepares for life beyond the pool.
“With swimming, this is probably one of the proudest moments of my life, I know I didn’t win a medal but I am proud I got here,” said Robinson, who finished 2.39 seconds behind gold medallist Jiang Yuyan of China in a time of 37.08secs.
“I am quite confident going into the next chapter of my life knowing if I can overcome this, I can take on anything else I want to pursue.
“At some point down the line maybe this year, 10 years, 20 years I am going to have a hip replacement because that is the only option for my hip. But in the meantime, there can be different surgeries, reshaping and things like that.”
💬 "Worlds are next year, and then we've got #Paris2024"@xxebobxx is relishing the #Paralympics experience she can take forward to future major championships as she goes close to a second podium in as many days, finishing 4⃣th in the S3 100m Freestyle #ImpossibleToIgnore pic.twitter.com/ucVw6n8V2g
— British Swimming (@britishswimming) August 30, 2021
Robinson’s emotional speech came on an underwhelming evening for Britain’s swimmers.
Ellie Challis, who at 17 ensured she will be GB’s youngest medallist at the Games by winning S3 50m backstroke silver on Sunday, finished fourth in S1 100m freestyle.
Ten-time Paralympic medallist Stephanie Millward was last in the women’s S9 100m backstroke final, while Andrew Mullen also did not manage a podium place, touching the wall in seventh in the S5 50m backstroke.