Olympic gold medalist Dmitriy Balandin has announced his retirement from competitive swimming.
Balandin, who won a historic title for his home nation of Kazakhstan in the men’s 200 breaststroke at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, announced the news in a video post on Instagram Wednesday.
Balandin, 27, will now take on a coaching role with Kazakhstan’s national team, having recently met with head coach Ilya Gusakov and the chairman of the Committee for Sports and Physical Culture, Samat Yergaliev.
“Athletes who have conquered the Olympics should continue to contribute to the development of the country’s sports, and not move away from this direction,” Yergaliev said, according to the committee’s press release.
“I think that your desire to become a coach shows how important Kazakhstani sports are to you. For our part, we are ready to support you.”
Balandin is best known for his triumph in Rio, as he claimed the gold medal in the men’s 200 breast out of Lane 8, clocking a time of 2:07.46 to emerge victorious over a tightly-bunched field that saw the top seven finishers all within 54 one-hundredths of one another.
His victory marked Kazakhstan’s first-ever Olympic medal in swimming.
Prior to winning Olympic gold, Balandin made a name for himself at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, sweeping the men’s 50, 100 and 200 breast events. He was also the 2015 World University Games gold medalist in the 100 breast, and won a total of six Asian Games medals and four WUGs medals over the course of his career.
He also represented Kazakhstan at four consecutive LC World Championships from 2013 to 2019, placing seventh in both the 100 and 200 breast in Gwangju.
In his second Olympic appearance last summer in Tokyo, Balandin placed 11th in the men’s 200 breast and 17th in the 100 breast.
He remains the Kazakhstani Record holder in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke (LCM):
- 50 breast – 27.24 (2015 World Championships)
- 100 breast – 59.03 (2019 World Championships)
- 200 breast – 2:07.46 (2016 Olympic Games)
Following his Olympic victory, Balandin had a pool named after him at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.