Lesbian sports star Natalie Cook is planning to retire from beach volleyball after the London Olympics.
As reported by Wide World of Sports, the 37-year-old’s Olympic career which stretches nearly two decades ended on Wednesday (1 August) with her fifth and final games.
‘The mind, and the body, needs a rest. Not a rest that I’m coming back from, but a rest forever,’ Cook said yesterday (2 August).
Cook and her partner Tamsin Hinchley played three matches in London, and exited without a win, with Cook blaming the unpredictable British weather.
She said: ‘Normally we play all day. So it was a bit of a shock to have three late-night matches.
‘The worst part was having to wear wet weather gear, because it was very cold and the wind was chilly.
‘You don’t want to be focused on how your body temperature is while you’re trying to compete.’
Cook is a two-time medal winner, having been awarded bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and gold at the 2000 Sydney Games.
The sports star married her long-time girlfriend and fellow beach volleyball player Sarah Maxwell in 2008.
She was one of 19 out of the 12,602 LGBT professional athletes competing at this year’s games.
Cook, also a motivational speaker, took 18 months off following the 2008 Beijing Olympics but rejected any notion she would return again for Rio 2016 as a competitor.
She said: ‘There is no room for you to relax in this environment where you try to be the best in the world. That takes an emotion, mental strength that I don’t think I can sustain past last night … so for me, it’s over.’
Cook did admit she has been training and mentoring fellow Australian Olympians.
She said: ‘I’m addicted to the Olympic Games so I’m sure it will be pretty hard for them to keep me out.’