Horton ends swim career before Olympics, lost ‘hunger’


Mack Horton has called time on his long and decorated swimming career.
Mack Horton has called time on his long and decorated swimming career.

Mack Horton has retired from competitive swimming six months out from the Paris Olympics, saying he no longer has the necessary hunger for it.

The 27-year-old departs the pool as an Olympic gold medallist in the 400m freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics and a bronze medallist in the 4x200m freestyle relay in Tokyo amid a decorated career, while also renowned as a strong advocate for clean sport.

Mack Horton
Mack Horton celebrated a career peak at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning the 400m freestyle gold. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

“I dearly wanted to swim in Paris but the hunger wasn’t there,” said Horton in a Swimming Australia statement.

“I always want to give my all and I am not someone who just wants to make up the numbers, so this is the right time to step away.

“I have felt so privileged to represent Australia and wear the green and gold … I just hope Australia thinks I did them proud.

“I am so grateful for my time in swimming and in regard to legacy, I hope my teammates and the sport think that I was able to help them and the sport in some way.

“And I hope they just remember me as Mack.”

Horton will also be widely remembered for the 2019 world championships, where he won silver in the 400m freestyle behind China’s Sun Yang and refused to shake the gold medallist’s hand or stand on the medal podium.

In February 2020, Sun Yang was issued an eight-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for tampering with the doping control process.

Mack Horton
Horton declined to stand on the podium after the 2019 world titles 400m final won by Sun Yang. (AP PHOTO)

“I don’t have any regrets … only that the years went so quickly,” Horton said. “Swimming has been my life … and it’s the friends and relationships I’ve made that trump any gold medal.”

Recently-married, Horton is the new president of the Australian Swimmers Association and he will relocate to Melbourne from the Gold Coast in the next few months.

Australian team head coach Rohan Taylor praised Horton as an athlete leader and said: “Mack is a person of great influence with constructive insights, and he is just a quality person.

“I want to express heartfelt gratitude to Mack for his achievements in and out of the water.”

Mack Horton’s career highlights:-

– Won Olympic gold in the 400m freestyle at Rio in 2016 and bronze as a prelim swimmer on the 4x200m free relay in 2021 in Tokyo.

– His 1:44.85 anchor was the fastest Australian leg at the 2019 world championships, leading Australia to gold over Russia and the US.

– He won seven world championship medals, four Pan Pac Championship medals, and eight Commonwealth Games medals, including four gold.