• London Olympics 2012

Talented swimmer Ajulu-Bushell quits Team GB

ESPN staff
February 3, 2012
Achieng Ajulu-Bushell is leaving swimming to pursue a degree in fine art © PA Photos

Team GB's first black female swimmer Achieng Ajulu-Bushell has taken a swipe at the sport's governing body for failing to support her after giving up on her Olympic dream.

Ajulu-Bushell has decided to turn her back on swimming - for the time being at least - in favour of focusing on her A-levels. The 17-year-old, widely regarded as one of Britain's brightest talents, has fallen out of love with the sport and will now turn her attentions on achieving the grades needed to land a place at Oxford University in September.

The youngster, who made her senior debut for Britain at the 2010 European Championships, recently dropped out of British Swimming's World Class Performance programme and says the relentless training required at the top level took its toll.

Ajulu-Bushell, who said she would "rather have a first-class degree than an Olympic medal", told the Daily Telegraph: "It is my easiest way of justifying it (not competing at the Games). I haven't been overly motivated for a year and didn't get better for two. It is a brutal sport and horrible to go through the plateau when things aren't going right. There was a huge lack of support for athletes not doing well.

"So many needed attention that it just went against British Swimming's ethos of this being a long-term sport. But I'm not bitter. I just got to the stage where I got fed up. My stroke was changed and I simply lost rhythm and strength in my legs."

A former world No. 1 in 50m short course, Ajulu-Bushell is not ruling out a return to the pool at some point in the future, though she is wary of the demands asked of the modern-day swimmer. "It's never say never, but the whole environment is tough," she said.

British Swimming head coach Dennis Pursley gave his support to the athlete but hoped she would reconsider her decision down the line. He said: "We fully support Achieng's decision to move on from swimming. She is a young athlete so the doors of opportunity would not be closed to her."

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