Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Swimming

Carson siblings look to future after retiring together

By David Kelly

Together they supported and inspired each other to the top of their respective sports, so it seems appropriate that brother and sister Luke and Bethany Carson should retire at precisely the same juncture.

Luke competed against the world's best gymnasts, while Irish record holder Bethany did likewise in the pool - with both competing for Northern Ireland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Now both have decided it is time for the next chapter in their lives.

Luke, 26, said: "I had no idea that Beth was going to hang up her goggles. I had been thinking about it and then at dinner Beth came out and said she was going to finish her swimming career, so it's funny how the two of us have come to the same decision at the same time. Being at the 2010 Commonwealth Games together was very special."

Unfortunately for Luke, his career has been blighted by horrific injuries over the past four years and they have effectively brought an end to his competitive days, though as head coach at Rathgael Gymnastics club in Bangor he has already been making his mark.

"The main factor for me retiring from competition is medical. My leg has been giving me a lot of trouble and I had a further setback with a bone infection in the titanium rod that runs down my leg. I was told that the worst case scenario would be that I could lose my leg which as you can imagine scared the life out of me," added Luke.

"Overall I'm happy with what I've done, it's been a wonderful career - I got to travel the world and build friendships, opportunities which wouldn't have been possible without the sport of gymnastics. I think my only real regret is not listening to my body when it was hurting!

"I have to come to terms with the fact that I will not be going to the Rio Olympics next year or the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Now I want to help others live out their dreams and one of the young guys I work with at Rathgael, Rhys McCleneghan, is a big talent.

"British gymnastics have their eye on him, they're very interested in what he is doing and the five-year plan I have for him is very exciting. He can go to the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and before that the European juniors where he can win the first ever medal by an Irish junior.

"Working with the club has been great and there's a bunch of kids who are some of the most talented I've ever come across. They had great success at the Irish nationals and I expect the club to be a force in the UK as well."

As for sister Bethany, who missed out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games through injury, she has come to her decision out of frustration over recent performances.

"I'd been thinking about the decision for a couple of months because I had been doing so well in training but that wasn't translating into competition," said 23-year-old Bethany (below with Luke). "I had competed at the Canadian championships in the summer and didn't swim fast at all, not at the standard I expect from myself.

"Swimming is such a demanding sport that you have to be all in. I could have gone at 99 per cent but I would feel I was cheating myself.

"To be a top swimmer you have to give up so much, so when the results are not coming despite the work you're putting in it's just not worth it.

"I've had a great career and I love the sport. As Luke said, going together to the Commonwealth Games in 2010 was really special. I think we both had the same attitude to our sports - we gave it everything.

"The Games was a big highlight and so was breaking the 13-year-old 100m butterfly record of Olympic gold medallist Michelle Smith. That was a huge moment for me at the Irish long course championships.

"I'm in my third year of a Sports Science degree in Dublin but I would be keen to do some coaching and I already have my level one badge so we'll see what happens in the future."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph