By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Former Olympic champion and advocate for clean sport Mack Horton has announced his retirement from swimming only a few months before the Paris Summer Games that were expected to be his swansong.
The 27-year-old Australian, who won his only individual global gold in the 400 metres freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said he no longer felt he was able to give his best to the sport.
"I dearly wanted to swim in Paris but the hunger wasn't there," Horton, who recently got married, said in a Swimming Australia new release.
"I always want to give my all and I am not someone who just wants to make up the numbers, so this is the right time to step away.
"I have felt so privileged to represent Australia and wear the green and gold ... I just hope Australia thinks I did them proud."
Apart from his Olympic gold, Horton will be best remembered for refusing to stand on the podium next to Sun Yang after winning the silver medal behind the Chinese swimmer in the 400m freestyle at the 2019 Gwangju world championships.
Sun was under investigation for tampering with the doping process, charges which ultimately earned him a ban of four years and three months in 2021.
Horton, who had previously called Sun a "drug cheat", was subjected to a huge amount of abuse on social media for his stand and accused of hypocrisy when he did not similarly call out fellow Australians who were found guilty of doping offences.
"I am so grateful for my time in swimming and in regard to legacy, I hope my team mates and the sport think that I was able to help them and the sport in some way," Horton added.
"And I hope they just remember me as Mack."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)
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