sport

Leisel Jones announces retirement

Triple Olympic gold medallist Leisel Jones has announced her retirement from competitive swimming.

Jones, who recently won silver in the women's 4x100m medley at her fourth Olympic Games in London this year, announced her decision at a press conference.

Arguably one of Australia's greatest-ever swimmers, Jones will bow out of sport with the same number of Olympic medals as Ian Thorpe - nine - with her three gold coming in the 4x100m medleys in Athens and Beijing, and the 100m breaststroke in Beijing.

Jones burst onto the swimming scene as a sprightly 14-year-old who was known to colour her fingernails green and gold when in competitions, but the now grown-up 27-year-old is ready to continue her professional career beyond the pool.

"I have a natural competitive drive and I think that will carry through into whatever I do after swimming," Jones said.

"Of course swimming will always be a big part of my life but I am extremely proud of my achievements. To represent Australia at four Olympic Games is something that is very humbling and each one holds different memories and significance for me.

"I've basically grown up as a member of the Australian Swim Team, travelling the world competing, and I feel very honoured to have had so many wonderful opportunities and so much fantastic support along the way."

Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent paid tribute to Jones, saying her longevity to swim in four Olympics was an inspiration to the next generation of swimmers.

"Qualifying for her fourth Olympic Games was an outstanding achievement and just another milestone in a what has been a remarkable career for Leisel," Nugent said.

"She is probably one of the fiercest competitors that we have ever seen, and her dominance at national and international level has been terrific.

"Leisel has inspired a whole generation of athletes with her success and hard work, and her contribution to swimming in Australia, especially breaststroke, will be her lasting legacy."

Aside from her accomplishments in the Olympic pool, Jones also won 10 Commonwealth Games golds, seven World Championship and 23 national titles.