A THREE-time Olympian, world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Leeds diver Becky Gallantree has every right to be proud of her achievements as the 32-year-old basks in retirement.
An Olympic medal will remain the missing piece in the puzzle, but Gallantree exits the pool with absolutely no regrets admitting she exceeded every expectation upon starting out at seven years old.
Beijing, London and Rio Olympian Gallantree used the first month of the new year to announce her retirement from diving, despite believing that a fourth Games at Tokyo 2020 was within her capabilities.
The Leeds diver would have been 36 by then, but believes she was still improving at the time of quitting.
Results back up that belief with Gallantree having enjoyed her best results in the last four years – winning gold alongside Wakefield’s Alicia Blagg in the 3m synchro event at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, a year before becoming a world champion when winning the new team event alongside Tom Daley in Kazan.
An Olympic medal – at the third attempt – in Rio would have been the icing on the cake but Gallantree and Blagg had to settle for finishing sixth – four years after finishing seventh at London 2012. Gallantree was also 18th in the 3m individual event at London 2012 and 25th in the same event in Beijing.
There will now be no fourth Games assault in Tokyo and an Olympic medal remains the one that got away but Gallantree knows she can take a bow in any case after a superb career.
“It’s not a regret because I did everything I could to get there,” Gallantree told the YEP, speaking about her Olympic near misses. “It just didn’t quite work out for me on the day basically. It would have been amazing to come away with an Olympic medal but still I have achieved more then I ever thought I would. If I look back when I was younger, I never thought I would have probably made it to an Olympic Games at all let alone it be a reality that I could have got a medal.
“I’m really proud of what I have achieved over my career and I know that it’s a good time for me to start to move on to other things.
“After almost retiring after London, in a way I have been thinking about it for the past four years, really, but it was a little bit difficult when it came down to it. But in a way it wasn’t because I knew that it was the right time for me.
“I think physically I could have done Tokyo and I actually think I could have kept improving up to then. But I’m ready and there’s other things I want to do with my life now.
“I’m happy because I know and I am comfortable that I have made the right decision at the right time and I feel really lucky that I have been able to make that decision on my terms as well which I know that some athletes don’t get to do.
“But it was also a little bit sad when I was doing my last session.
“But I know I can just go back and get in the pool if I want to and I have been doing quite a bit of coaching over these last few weeks.
“At the moment I am covering one of the Leeds coaches who is on holiday so I have actually been down the pool just as much as I would have been if I was training full time which has been really great.”
Times are certainly a changing at City Of Leeds Diving Club with Gallantree’s coach Ady Hinchliffe preparing to take on a new role with Team Australia in March.
And his former protégé will be able to pay Hinchliffe a visit with the diver and her partner Guy Atkinson planning a four-and-a-half month tour of New Zealand, Australia and South Asia from this spring.
“It’s something that I have always wanted to do but have never been able to because of my diving,” Gallantree explained.
Diving, though, remains in Gallantree’s blood and will always play some part in her future – as will the city of Leeds.
The diver hopes long term to work in prosthetics and orthotics and has also been working for both Sports For Schools and Dame Kelly Homes Trust but admitted: “I definitely want to stay involved in diving. I don’t want to just cut all ties from the sport because I think I have got a lot to give back and I want to do that. ”
Recalling the day she first moved to Leeds for university, Essex-born Gallantree pondered: “I remember coming up for competitions before I moved up here and I remember in a way being a little bit intimidated by the Leeds team as in Leeds diving because they were so strong.
“But actually then when I moved up here I was really welcomed by everyone and just basically loved it from the first minute I got here.
“Now it would have to be a pretty good reason for me to leave.”