Swimming: Nocher quits to pursue 'new challenge'
Irish star Melanie Nocher has decided to hang up her goggles and move into the world of media and fashion.
The European bronze medallist has announced her retirement from the sport after a fine career in which the 24-year-old competed at two Olympic Games and two Commonwealth Games, as well as numerous European Championships.
Despite qualifying for London 2012, having competed four years earlier in the Beijing Games, Nocher was not able to perform to her absolute peak due to illness, and that hit her hard.
The seeds of her future in television were sown shortly afterwards as Nocher was employed by Setanta to be part of their Paralympics coverage.
"I really loved the work I did with Setanta, it was a great experience and they have told me that they would love to have me back," said the Holywood, Co Down native.
"My agent will be working on things for me now and more television work is something that I am aiming at; maybe there could be some work with Sky Sports, Setanta or somebody else.
"And I'm also looking at doing some sports modelling. I've done a bit of that already during my swimming career and it is something that I have always enjoyed.
"I've just come to the point where it is time to move on, time for a new challenge. It has not been an easy decision but I believe it's the right one.
"I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.
"I can promise I will remember everyone who has helped me. I would like to thank Swim Ulster and Swim Ireland for all the support they have provided and also the Irish Sports Council and Sport Council Northern Ireland for financially helping me."
The financial issue – along with a change in priorities – played a part in Nocher making the shock decision to retire at the peak of her powers.
"It's always hard for a sports person to know when is the right time to go.
"But I'm 24 and some day you have to get into the real world. For example, I can't get a mortgage because I don't have any savings and I want to buy a house with my boyfriend Ben.
"We've been together for three years and when you're a top athlete it's a very selfish lifestyle, so my priorities have changed and to spend another two years working towards the Commonwealth Games or four years for the Olympics in Rio would have been too much of a sacrifice.
"I've had a great time and part of me still wants to compete, but I know this is right for me."