Basketball star Caroline to retire
It all began 26 years ago with an article in the Haverhill Echo, and it’s all ending in much the same way for former Team GB wheelchair basketball star Caroline Maclean.
The 43-year-old is retiring from the game after ‘an incredible playing career’ that has seen her compete at four Paralympic Games, carry the Olympic torch through her hometown and receive the Freedom of Haverhill in 2013.
Having already stepped away from Team GB after London 2012, Maclean is just two matches away from overall retirement as she hopes to ‘go out on a high’.
She will this weekend play her final game for the Shropshire Warriors in the National League Premier Division before competing in the Women’s League Championship title race with regional side Angels of the North on the last weekend in May.
And, on the eve of her final games, she has cast her mind back to how her love of wheelchair basketball started in 1992.
At 17 years old she read a piece in the Echo about a new wheelchair basketball club being set up, the Suffolk Braves, and decided to get involved.
She has not looked back as her star rose quickly in the sport, becoming a reserve for the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996.
She said: “I’m glad it worked out the way it did, with my first Paralympics in Sydney 2000. It’s an experience I will treasure forever.
“It’s so hard to explain the feeling of representing your country — or going to an opening ceremony — it’s just the best feeling.”
Maclean carried on representing Team GB through Athens 2004 and then Beijing 2008 before culminating in London 2012.
She said: “I thought I would stop then, after a home games, that was the pinnacle really.
“And I did step away from Team GB, you just can’t go on forever, it takes a lot of your time and energy.
“I had always promised I’d do a season with Telford though before I stopped altogether and then I was talked into helping out with Angels of the North — and that was three years ago.
“But the time has come to step away, the travel and the training have started to eclipse the fact I love to play, it’s just too much now.
“I have always said I don’t want to play at a lower level, if I can’t play at the top anymore, then I don’t want to play at all.
“So I want to go out on a high, and hopefully win the Women’s League.”
She said she will remain involved with the sport, although she has decided coaching is not for her.
“It’s been my life,” she said. “I will stay a fan and will enjoy watching in future.”