British athletics great Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won heptathlon gold at the London 2012 Olympics, announced her retirement from athletics on Thursday.
In a post on social media, Ennis-Hill, 30, described it as “one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make”.
“I’ve always said I wanted to leave on a high and have no regrets. I know that retiring now is right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Her retirement means she will not return to the stadium where she experienced her greatest achievement — as London hosts next year’s World Athletics Championships.
British Athletics described her record as an athlete as “phenomenal”, adding: “And that’s without considering the challenges of returning from pregnancy to win world gold and Olympic silver.”
Ennis-Hill, a two-time world champion in 2009 and 2015, had hinted at retirement after claiming silver at the Rio Olympics.
Her greatest moment came on a golden night for British athletics in front of a raucous home crowd in London four years ago, which has gone down in British sporting folklore as ‘Super Saturday’, as fellow Britons Mo Farah win the 10,000 metres and Greg Rutherford the long jump inside the Olympic Stadium.
As a result Royal Mail issued a stamp in honour of her achievement.
She competed in Rio two years after the birth of her son and had been bidding to become just the third athlete to successfully defend her Olympic crown after having a baby.
But she missed out on retaining her title by 35 points to Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam.
Ennis-Hill’s first medal at a championships came 10 years ago with bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
The champion that day, fellow Briton Kelly Sotherton, tweeted her tribute to Ennis-Hill.
“It’s sad to hear that @J_Ennis has retired before @London2017. She has achieved the pinnacle of sport and is a fabulous role model for anyone.”
Aside from her sublime athletics prowess, Ennis-Hill was a rare bird in also being immensely popular and her sunny disposition helped to spur on the younger generation as attested to by British Athletics performance director Neil Black.
“Not only has she competed at the highest level, but she has been a warm and positive presence within the GB team and a great example to the younger team members,” Black said.
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