British world silver medalist Ellen Gandy has decided to switch allegiance to her adoptive home of Australia as she aims for a third Olympic campaign, a report said yesterday.
Gandy, whose family moved to Australia when she was 16, said her decision came after a disappointing performance in London where she not only missed out on a medal in the Olympic 200m butterfly, but failed to make the semi-finals.
“I had thought about it before but not seriously, but when I looked into it, it became something that I was really excited about,” the 21-year-old told The Australian newspaper of the switch.
Gandy swam at the Beijing Olympics, but really hit the international scene in 2009 when she broke the European 200m butterfly record by more than half a second at the British Championships.
The next year she won bronze in the same event at the European Championships and also took silver in the 100m butterfly at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, as well as bronze in the 200m butterfly and silver in the 4x100m medley relay. She went on to win 200m butterfly silver at last year’s world championships.
However, Gandy said the difficulty of living in Melbourne while competing for Britain had taken its toll.
“The last five years have been really, really difficult, especially the traveling,” she said. “A lot of the time I felt like I was in limbo because I didn’t feel Australian, but I didn’t really feel British either because I wasn’t there all the time.”
With the support of Swimming Australia, Gandy has applied for Australian citizenship.
If granted, she will be unable to compete internationally for a year in order to meet International Swimming Federation criteria for changing allegiance.
“It’s not that I don’t like Britain anymore, but Australia has always been so supportive of me as a foreign athlete,” she told the paper. “They have never treated me as an outsider.”
Gandy could return to Britain to make her debut for Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.