Theresa Goh, the Singaporean swimmer who came out as lesbian after winning a bronze medal in the 100 meter breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, has announced her retirement from swimming via Facebook.
In a public post, Goh wrote:
Goodbyes are hard y’all, but it’s time and I’m ready. 20 years of blood, sweat and tears have now come to an end. Was it worth it? Every single drop.
Thank you to everyone who’ve been so supportive, sport Singapore, Singapore disability sports council, my loved ones, my sponsors, Speedo and Genesis gym, and everyone who’ve been on this incredible journey with me. It honestly turned out better than I ever dreamed. I am eternally grateful.
Here’s to the future and continuing my attempt to make a difference on this mortal plane.
I have so much more to say but I don’t really know how to say all of it. Instead, take a quick stroll down memory lane with me.
Goh then posted a gallery of images of her swimming: One shows her as a child smiling while swimming in an inflatable yellow, red and blue lifesaver. Another shows a cake decorated to look like a pool with lane ropes, two backstrokers, the Singaporean flag draped over its side and two medalist swimmers smiling in the corner. A third shows Goh seated in a wheelchair, her supporters smiling all around her while waving small Singaporean flags.
In an exit interview with The Straights Times of Singapore, Goh said she “hopes to continue learning more about the topics close to her heart, such as the environment, animals, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and racism.”
She told The Straights Times that swimming will always be a key part of her identity:
“Surprisingly, it’s not my disability that taught me how to take hardship, but more the swimming part of me. It’s taught me a lot about discipline and being able to take hardship.... Being able to take pain and discomfort and challenges is something I can only do because I’ve been a competitive swimmer.”
Born with spina bifida — a condition in which the nerves of the spinal cord are exposed through a gap in the backbone — and paralyzed from the waist down, Goh won her first and only Paralympic medal after competitively swimming for 17 years. She has been swimming since age five and is her country’s first swimming world champion.