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Gandy Goes Gold And Green

Dec 3, 2012  - Craig Lord

Ellen Gandy, the medal hope at a home Olympic Games in London who froze in the headlights and went down as the biggest miss on the British team, is switching allegiance to Australia.

Having spent five years in Australia after her parents moved there for work, Gandy, silver medallist for Britain over 200m butterfly at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, will wear gold and green on her way to attempting to race at a third Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Gandy, 21, told the Australian media of her plans today. Based at coach Rohan Taylor's squad at Nunawading, in Melbourne, she was a poster girl for London 2012, a teenage club swimmer on the billboard diving from the Thames Barrier. Nerves got the better of her come the moment and Gandy now wants a new start.

"It started with the Olympics. I was really disappointed with my performance," she said. "I stumbled at the last hurdle, which was devastating because I had high hopes. I really thought my swimming career could be over after that."

After three months backpacking around Europe with boyfriend and surf lifesaver Sam Sheppard, Gandy returned to Melbourne unsure of which way to jump.

"I sat down with Rohan and he suggested that I look at establishing a more balanced lifestyle, go back to uni and, as part of that discussion, he raised the idea of competing for Australia," Gandy told The Australian. "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 last five years (living in Australia but competing for Britain) have been really, really difficult, especially the travelling. 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.

"It's not that I don't like Britain any more, but Australia has always been so supportive of me as a foreign athlete. They have never treated me as an outsider."

Before London 2012, Gandy had talked of returning to London after the Games to study because she loved the capital city of the nation she will now leave behind. One result can change a life, for better or worse.

Gandy must now miss a season and bypass Barcelona world titles but will be eligible to race for Australia in 2014.