Fred Deburghgraeve Calls It Quits
May 12, 2000 - Johan Dobbelaere
It's a sad day for swimming in Belgium. Olympic 100 metres breaststroke champion Frederik Deburghgraeve announced his retirement, a week after failing to attain the qualifying time for the Sydney Games. No more Olympic Games for Fred, no more competition. "I am selling all my swimming trunks, I am stopping," 26-year-old Deburghgraeve told. Everyone in Belgium is very disappointed about his decision. Deburghgraeve has announced his retirement on a press conference in Brussels.
"I am tired and I think it's no longer possible for me to win any medals at the Games. I don't want to go to the Olympics and not bring back a medal," he said, "so it's over and out. This weekend, on Sunday afternoon, I will swim my last 100 metres at the Grand Prix in Antwerpen.
Deburghgraeve, who eclipsed the 100 metres breaststroke world record in the heats before winning the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics, failed to achieve the required time of one minute 2.86 seconds to qualify for Sydney last week. Deburghgraeve swam 1.03.87.
"I was very disappointed after Saturday morning in Brugge. I did my upmost best but I failed. I was working for months and if you feel that it doesn't work, it hurts enormously. I feel that my best days have gone. It's better to stop." Deburghgraeve, winner of the 100 breaststroke world title in 1998, was seen as Belgium's best hope for Olympic gold and starred in a glossy television commercial to promote the country's sporting ambitions, entitled "Sydney here we come".
Francois Narmon, president of the Belgian International Olympic Committee, played down the significance of Deburghgraeve's retirement. "It wasn't just him going to Sydney. He was the symbol of the whole team that will represent us," Narmon told. Ronald Gaastra, coach of Fred, is very disappointed. "I feel that he has a lack of confidence. It's sad that the career of such an athlete stops in this way."