Paralympic legend Daniel Dias announced on Tuesday (12 January) his retirement from Para swimming after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“This is a decision I took some time ago, as I have been looking at new goals and objectives. I’m really grateful for everything swimming has given me, so I don’t want it to be a sad moment. I’m really happy to be able to make this announcement,” Dias said in an emotional statement posted on social media.
The 32-year-old competed in three editions of the Paralympic Games from Beijing 2008 to Rio 2016, taking 24 medals – more than any other male Para swimmer in history.
Brazil’s and South America’s most decorated Paralympian is only three medals away from equalling Swedish shooter Jonas Jacobsson as the biggest male multi-medallist of all times.
“I never thought I would have gone as far as I did. If I had written a letter when I began my career 16 years ago with all I wanted to achieve, it wouldn’t be as perfect as it has been. I have no doubt Tokyo 2020 will be an unforgettable moment, as the Paralympic Games are always special,” Dias added.
Born in Campinas, Sao Paulo state in 1988, Dias discovered Para swimming watching fellow Brazilian Clodoaldo Silva competing at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
Two years later, Dias was already smashing world records and making his World Championships debut in Durban, South Africa taking three gold medals.
In 2007, he made the headlines in Brazil by winning eight gold medals at the Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
His Paralympic debut came at Beijing 2008 with the Brazilian returning from China with nine medals (four golds, four silvers and one bronze).
At London 2012, Dias won six golds out of six events at the London Aquatics Centre. Four years later, the class S5 swimmer was responsible for some of the most epic moments of the Rio 2016 Games, taking nine medals (including four golds) and making the crowd go wild.
Earlier in 2016, Dias received the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for a third time, which is also a record, as he won in 2009 and 2013.
On top of his Paralympic medals, the Brazil has also won 40 World Championships medals (31 golds) and 33 Parapan American Games medals (all of them gold).
"I want to thank my family, my mother, my father and my wife for all their support. They are an important part of all my glories. Also my coach and my training staff for supporting me and keeping me healthy to achieve my dreams.
“An athlete’s life is made of cycles, and that is why I decided to stop here as I believe my contribution to Para swimming has already gone beyond my expectations. Now I feel I can continue to contribute to sport in different ways, helping swimming become a reference in my country and in the world,” Dias said.
One area in which the Brazilian will be more involved in the future is with his foundation, Instituto Daniel Dias, created in 2014 and working for inclusion through sport. Dias is also a member of Brazil’s National Athletes Commission (CNA).
But until there, his focus will be on his last Paralympics in Japan.
“To be able to say goodbye in the biggest event of the Paralympic Movement is spectacular. It will be a moment of great joy,” Dias said.