By Emily Goddard

Heather Frederiksen is retiring from competitive swimming to start a family ©Getty ImagesNovember 13 - Heather Frederiksen, the British Paralympic swimmer who won gold at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, has retired from competitive action after announcing that she is expecting her first child.

After becoming the S8 100 metres backstroke champion at the last two consecutive summer Games, as well as claiming five silver medals and a bronze, the multiple world record holder admitted it was difficult to call time on her six-year career but is delighted to be starting her family.

"It was a really tough decision to make because I love swimming and it has given me so much but I haven't been in the best of health for the past two seasons and I knew I had to put recovery and my health first," the 27-year-old said.

"I have so many good memories from swimming including winning my first Paralympic gold medal in a world record time in Beijing after being told that I wouldn't walk again.

"Picking up my MBE from the Palace was something I would never have expected and a huge honour for me.

"Then London will always be in my heart.

"I won gold at those Games and got to stand on the podium listening to everyone singing the national anthem which was incredible.

"I want to thank everyone at British Swimming and especially Mark Rose who has supported me throughout my illness and his continuing support now.

"I recently got married and we are starting a family.

"I am expecting my first child and I can't wait to be a mummy.

"I won't be far away from the pool either as I've just qualified for my level two coaching certificate so I will be back but on deck this time."

Heather Frederiksen was awarded an MBE earlier this year ©Getty ImagesHeather Frederiksen was awarded an MBE earlier this year ©Getty Images

Frederiksen had been a promising open water swimmer - she won both the British 10 kilometres Open Water Championship and 4.5km British Grand Prix on the same day in 2004 - before for an accident left her with limited use of her right arm and leg.

Doctors told her she would never swim again but she defied the odds and made her debut on the international Para-swimming scene at the age of 20 and went on to secure 20 international accolades, including 10 gold medals, through the course of her career.

Her career was not, however, without its controversies and in 2009 she was hit with a six-month doping ban following a positive test for raised levels of Salbutamol after she used an inhaler to halt an asthma attack.

She went on to compete at London 2012 with a "clear conscience".

"Heather has enjoyed a hugely successful swimming career and I want to congratulate her on all she has achieved," British national performance director Chris Furber said.

"She was a really motivated athlete that showed great dedication for the sport throughout her career.

"On behalf of everyone at British Para-Swimming I want to wish her luck and best wishes for the future."

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