Paralympic swimmer Ellie Robinson has said her story is one of “triumph and not defeat” after calling time on her career due to an ongoing hip condition.
The 20-year-old Team GB athlete defended her Paralympic butterfly title at the 2020 Games on Monday, but finished fifth in the S6 50m event she won in Rio in 2016 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Ellie 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.
The swimmer gave an emotional interview to Channel 4 after the event, in which she said she had been through the “hardest year of my life” preparing for the Tokyo Games, which were delayed by 12 months due to the Covid pandemic.
“A Perthes hip has a finite amount of time left and unfortunately for me, I ran out of time this year with my hip,” she said.
“I think had the Games been last year, it would have been a very different story, but I think with lockdown and the extra year, and the adaptation with training, it properly took its toll and I ran out of time.”
Becoming tearful, Ellie continued: “I came here and I made the final and I’m still in the top five. But in the past year, people have been saying to me, ‘It’s OK to finish,’ because I was in a really, really, really low point in my life and I was struggling so much.... And I said I’m not finishing this way, it is not going to end this way.
“So I can walk away, and even though I didn’t medal, I could still say that I ended on my own terms. I went out the way I wanted to.
“I remember saying so many times that if I have to crawl to the block on my hands and knees, I will do it. And I’m just so proud of myself for getting this far because I’ve been in agony this whole year and this is a story of triumph. This is not a story of defeat.
She added: “I am so proud of myself for getting this far. And this is just showing people that what threatens to weaken you will not conquer you. You will overcome it and you will end on your own terms. You are in control, all the time.”