Red Deer’s Tammy Cunnington decided to hang up her swim goggles after one final swim at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Cunnington, 45, raced in the 50 metre backstroke S4 on Friday morning and announced her retirement from the pool deck following the race.
“I’m proud to hold the title of two-time Paralympian and honoured to have represented Canada at so many competitions over the last seven years,” wrote Cunnington in a heartfelt Instagram post.
“I wasn’t able to achieve all that I wanted to in the pool in these years but I’ll celebrate what I have achieved in and out of the water and I’ve always done my best to represent Canada with honour and integrity.
“There are so many words to say but right now it’s very fresh and it’s been an emotional day. My goggles were filling with tears at the end of my backstroke this morning. A huge thank you to everyone who supported me, particularly my close friends and family.”
Cunnington finished seventh in her heat in the backstroke, with a time of 1:00.50. She was unable to make a final this week over the course of her three events.
The Ponoka native, who was paralyzed from the waist down when she was six years old, said the uncertainty of the last few years has been just another incredible challenge she had to overcome. She trained in the most unusual ways, with a lack of access to pool facilities during the pandemic.
She grappled with the decision to fight for a spot at the Paralympics this year after the event was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She qualified just a few months before the Paralympics and swam in three events in Tokyo.
Cunnington retires with plenty of memorable moments in the pool representing Canada. In 2015, she burst on the international stage with a triple medal performance at the Parapan American Games in Toronto. In the 2016 Paralympics, she swam for her country in two events.
At one point in her career, she held the Canadian records for the S4 50-m and 100-m freestyles and 50-m butterfly.