Lennox Head welcomes home Paralympian Jacqueline Freney. Photo The Northern Star Archives
Lennox Head welcomes home Paralympian Jacqueline Freney. Photo The Northern Star Archives Doug Eaton

Paralympic swimming star pulls out of Rio Games

PARALYMPIC swimming star Jacqueline Freney has pulled out of the Rio Games later this year.

The eight-time gold medal winner from the London Paralympics is battling a mystery medical problem.

After a barrage of tests, there is still no answer for the 23 year oldto the cause of the electro-magnetic sensations throughout her body when she trains hard.

Rather than dwell on her misfortune, Ms Freney remains positive.

"I don't think I have anything to prove in my swimming now," she says. "I'm taking it as a sign the universe doesn't want me to go to Rio."

The decision allows her to embrace the opportunities open to her now she is not committed to the gruelling schedule of training required for competition.

"I'm doing it all backwards," she says with a laugh. "I'm picking up the areas lacking when I committed myself to eight years of hard training."

Those areas include learning to drive and having a more flexible social life.

It also gives her the opportunity to pursue an issue close to her heart. Ms Freney is passionate about supporting children with disability.

She has undertaken studies in education support to help children with disabilities, and courses in holistic natural therapies.

"It gives me a boost to see other people with a disability achieve," she says.

Her swimming success and being named Young Australian of the Year in 2014 helped her to get her message out-"that anything is possible."

Ms Freney offers some hope to those who despair of never seeing her compete in the pool again.

She still trains to keep fit and hasn't ruled out competing in the future if her health issue is resolved.

"It is the highlight of my life to date," she says of her Olympic success.

"It's a little bit disappointing (not to be going to Rio)... If the sensations go tomorrow, I'm quite happy to get back in and train and hopefully compete… I am not in retirement phase."



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