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Huegill hangs up the trunks

AUSTRALIAN butterfly champion Geoff Huegill will retire from competitive swimming convinced the current squad still needs a change in attitude for it to regain the lofty standard it held a decade ago.

But the dual Olympian said he was looking forward to helping by acting in a mentoring role to rebuild the team culture that had appeared to implode in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games.

Huegill, who won the 100 metres butterfly bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics, yesterday announced he would retire for a second and final time to concentrate on his career out of the pool.

Huegill and London Olympian Melanie Schlanger, who anchored the women's gold medal 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay team, engaged in a Twitter war of words in the bitter fallout to the swimming team's poor results in London. Huegill criticised Schlanger's complaint about how little she earned this year, saying those who had all-expenses-paid trips around the world to train and compete had no right to complain.

Yesterday, Huegill said he and Schlanger had ''moved on'' from the exchange but he held to his views.

''I am all for athletes earning more money and I am all for athletes getting as much as they can from the sport,'' Huegill said.


''[But] you can't go away to an Olympic Games and have the team carry on like they did before the competition and to come away without any results and ask for a payrise … if the results aren't on the board then unfortunately you don't have a leg to stand on …

''It would be easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise and say where the sport or the athletes went wrong, but I think the most important thing now is instead of being part of the problem, it's coming together with everyone and try and work out a proper solution and that's ultimately one of the most exciting things that I'm looking forward to for the next four years.''

Huegill had left his swimming career open-ended after failing to make the London Games squad at the national trials in March this year. But the 33-year-old has within the past couple of weeks completed the necessary paperwork to signal his time in competitive swimming was finished.

Huegill made a well-publicised comeback to the pool after retiring after the 2004 Athens Olympics, when he dropped more than 40 kilograms to win two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

He said he was happy with what he had achieved in the pool and that he had made amends for ''poor decisions'' made during the earlier part of his career.

However, while realising he could no longer commit to the training needed with his work and sponsorship commitments, he said retirement was still a difficult decision to make.

''As much as I would love to keep swimming and going away and racing … I really had to start cementing the next phase of my career,'' Huegill said.

''I know that if I walked away from the sport today I know that I gave 110 per cent in everything I did, and it's not that I wouldn't want to keep swimming, it's more that I don't have five or six hours a day to dedicate to the sport because it's not fair on my family.

''They've been great and we've made a lot of sacrifices as it is, but when I look at 2016, I see my life from a business point of view.''