Double Paralympic champion Georgie Hermitage has today announced her retirement from para athletics at the age of 30.
Over the last five years, Hermitage has claimed four world titles, defending the T37 400m title at the London Stadium in 2017 – in a race where she set the world record of 1:00.29 which still stands today – in front of a rapturous home crowd.
She competed in club athletics during her childhood, and she would later be inspired to return to the sport soon after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Fast forward three years, and she was making her international debut for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Para Athletics Championships in Doha.
Watched on by her then three-year-old daughter, Tilly, she sealed the T37 400m title in style and was also part of the T35-38 4x100m relay gold-medal winning team. A silver over the 100m added to a dream debut for Hermitage as she announced herself on the international stage.
A year later, Rio was the venue for two of her finest triumphs as she was crowned Paralympic champion in the T37 100m and 400m.
She reached the 100m final where she would face Mandy Francois-Elie of France. The Briton oozed quality as she stormed to the title in 13.13, beating the Frenchwoman by 0.32 seconds leading to wild celebrations.
She would later return to the track during an exceptionally hot morning session to contest the T37 400m final. With the Chinese athletes posing a real threat to her crown, she once again showed her quality, winning in 1:00.53 and adding another medal to ParalympicsGB’s ever-growing tally at those Games.
She finished the Games as a triple medallist following silver in the T35-38 4x100m relay, joining Kadeena Cox, Sophie Hahn and Maria Lyle on the podium.
Earlier that year she also won four titles at the WPA European Championships in Grosseto, another example of her stellar achievements on the track.
Her double success in London at a home championship was a fitting end to a wonderful career after injury affected her progress over the last two seasons.
After calling time on her career, Hermitage said: “It is a heart-breaking decision to retire but despite our best efforts, my body isn’t recovering from injuries which means I’m not able to train or compete to the level that’s required. Working with the British Athletics medical team, we have thrown the kitchen sink at trying to deal with the injuries, but they keep recurring. You can never say never, but I know this is the right decision at this point in my life.
“Sport is a lovely thing, but it is not everything. I want to be able to go out for a jog with Tilly. I don’t want to miss those lovely moments with her. I’m at a point in my life when that is the most important thing. Tilly is so excited to get her mum back.”
“I would have loved to have gone to Tokyo, but I would have been half the athlete I know I can be. The pain and stress it was causing me meant I wasn’t enjoying it as much.”
Reflecting on her highlights on the track, she added: “The 2015 world championships in Doha was a bubble. I remember been in holding camp wearing kit and I was so excited. It was a quick intro into that environment. I think it helped that I met my best friend in the sport on that trip – ‘Butters’ (Jo Butterfield). She was my roommate and we just got on straight away. I was nervous but not under real pressure, so I really enjoyed those championships. It is one of my happiest memories.
“I’d say the highlight of my career was definitely winning the 100m in Rio. It was not my favourite event so to win it meant even more. The whole race was an out of body experience – I still can’t actually watch it! The relief was so huge, and my euphoria went through the roof. I felt invincible.
“London 2017 was special in a different type of way. I remember there was a really good crowd in for my heats on Saturday morning. The roar was just amazing. Richard Whitehead told me to use it and I pumped up the crowd, it was unbelievable. To win both races in front of Tilly and my family was also very special. I won’t forget that moment.”
Para Athletics Head Coach, Paula Dunn, added: “Georgie has achieved so much during her career and made that time count. She has been a great teammate and her retirement will leave a huge gap in the team, not just in terms of her athletic performance, but also as Georgie the individual.
“She has worked very hard with the medical team at British Athletics to overcome and rehab the injuries, but I understand her decision. It is never easy to retire but I understand she is at a point in life where this is the best decision for Georgie and her family, and that is what is most important.
“She retires with several Paralympic, world and European titles to her name, all of which she worked incredibly hard for so she should be very proud of her achievements. Not only has she achieved great results on the track, but she has had to balance that with raising her daughter, Tilly. It is not an easy balance at all, but like us, Tilly will be so proud of what her mum has achieved during her athletics career and I wish them all the best for the future.”