There’s a reason why many Olympic athletes cry after winning a gold medal. There’s a reason why they bawl when they come up short.
There’s power in realizing a dream; and devastation upon seeing your life’s dedication dashed by mere fractions of a second.
For Simon Burnett, the latter proved true on Monday in a pool some 45 miles east of his hometown.
For the University of Arizona alum, his career is now over.
Burnett, 29, called it a career on Tuesday, leaving a wake that won’t soon be forgotten on either side of the pond – or pool, depending on how far you’d like to stretch the metaphor.
Representing Great Britain in pool over the last 10yrs has been an honour & a privilege. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to deliver today.
— Simon Burnett (@TheSimonBurnett) July 29, 2012
Instead of going out as a champ, Burnett and the UK men’s 4X100 freestyle relay team fell shy of advancing to the finals on Monday. France eventually won the gold medal, followed by the Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte-led United States.
The Tetsworth, United Kingdom native made a career swimming the 200 m freestyle. He first took to the water’s of international competition 12 years ago and swam to his Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Burnett joined the Wildcats in the spring of 2003 and went on to win an NCAA title in the 200 freestyle as a freshman, earning All-American nods in six events. He duplicated the NCAA championship in the 200 free two years later. As a senior in 2006, Burnett set the NCAA record in the same event, the fastest time ever in a short course yard pool.
The UA inducted him into its Athletics Hall of Fame last November, in a class that consisted of fellow swimmers Lyndon Ferris, Marshi Smith and legendary Wildcat head coach Frank Busch, USA Swim’s National Team Director, who was on hand to witness the final race of Burnett’s career.
Even in defeat, Burnett still displayed why he’s a champion in the eyes of many in both Tucson and Tetsworth — and beyond.