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Jessica Ennis-Hill: Great Britain heptathlete retires from athletics

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Watch the moment Ennis secures a memorable heptathlon gold

Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won heptathlon gold for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, has retired from athletics.

The 30-year-old had hinted at retirement after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in August.

In a post on social media, Ennis-Hill – also a double world champion – said it was “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,” she added.

Ennis-Hill’s heptathlon gold was one of the most iconic moments of London 2012’s ‘Super Saturday’.

But she missed out on retaining her Olympic title in Rio by 35 points to Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam. Speaking afterwards, she said she would not rush a decision over ending her career.

In her statement on Thursday, she said “retiring now is right”.

“I want to thank my family and incredible team who have spent so much of their time supporting me and enabling me to achieve my dreams,” she added.

“Also, a huge thank you to all those people who have supported and followed my career over the years.”

After winning Olympic gold in London, Ennis-Hill had her first child, Reggie, in 2014 and won a second world title just 13 months later.

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.”

Retirement means she will not return to the stadium where she won Olympic gold for the World Championships in London in August 2017.

Ennis-Hill’s coach Toni Minichiello said she was “one of our sporting greats” and the manner of her retirement – “walking out of the stadium by stepping off the podium” – was “fitting”.

“We’ve known for a long time this day was coming. Many sports people hold on too long,” he added.

“Despite all the fame and money she’s never forgotten where she’s come from – most of her friends she’s had from school days. She’s humble, she grafts, she pushes herself hard and she never gives up.”

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How Jessica Ennis-Hill won gold at Worlds

What she said

“Amazing memories… From my first world title in Berlin 2009 to Rio 2016 I’m so fortunate to have had such an amazing career within the sport I love and this has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make.

“But I know that retiring now is right. I’ve always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that.

“I want to thank my family and incredible team who have spent so much of their time supporting me and enabling me to achieve my dreams.

“Also a huge thank you to all those people who have supported and followed my career over the years.

“Sport has been such a huge part of my life and I hope I can share some of the positives it brings with everyone moving forward.

“I plan to spend time with my family and work on my future plans.”

What she won

Ennis-Hill’s first medal came at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne at the age of 20, when she took bronze behind fellow British athlete Kelly Sotherton.

She then missed out on the medals at the 2007 World Championships and had a year out with injury – missing the Beijing Olympics – before beginning a period of domination with gold at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

She followed that up with another gold at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, Spain and then won silver at the 2011 Worlds in Daegu, South Korea before heading to her home Olympics in London in 2012 as an overwhelming favourite.

She delivered gold on ‘Super Saturday’, comfortably winning in a new British and Commonwealth record.

After missing the 2014 season to have her son, Reggie, she returned to win her second world title in Beijing in 2015 and then finished second at the Rio Olympics this summer.

Analysis

Tom Fordyce, chief sports writer

If the timing of her retirement is no great surprise – the emergence of Nafi Thiam at this summer’s Olympics moved heptathlon to a new level – Ennis-Hill’s career has still been about the gloriously unexpected: winning world titles and Olympic golds when she was supposed to be too small to succeed, overcoming stress fractures that cost her early championship chances, beating women once banned for doping and others who were only retrospectively sanctioned.

Her triumph at London 2012 was one of the iconic moments of an impossible fortnight; to then win back her world crown as the mother of a young son was arguably a greater achievement still. In a tainted era, a splendid role model. British sport has been lucky to have her.

BBC athletics commentator Brendan Foster

I’m very disappointed but I’m not surprised. The World Championships in London in 2017 could have been a swansong, but she has been a fantastic athlete, an incredible role model and she has conducted herself brilliantly over the years.

She has been a pleasure to watch and to be around. The sport will miss her, the British public will miss her but I’m sure she is doing the right thing.

She is one of the all-time British greats. She was carrying the whole nation on her shoulders going into London 2012 and the pressure on her was immense, like nobody else. But she delivered, an indelible memory which we shall never forget.

The sport will be foolish not to keep her on at some level, she is a huge asset. She has been up, she’s been down, she has won, she’s lost, but at every point she has conducted herself magnificently. She is extremely charismatic.

Everyone says she is a great role model for women – and she is – but she has been a role model for men, too. To look at her, she is so tiny standing next to many international athletes, but inside that smiling exterior she has internal steel. Male and female athletes think the world of her.

It’s a sad day for the sport – but a great day for her.

Reaction

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Fellow British heptathlete Katerina Johnson-Thompson

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Former Commonwealth heptathlon champion Kelly Sotherton

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Former Commonwealth champion sprinter Dwain Chambers

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Commonwealth champion gymnast Becky Downie

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Former Commonwealth champion sprinter Dai Greene

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Former Commonwealth 400m champion Iwan Thomas

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Broadcaster Clare Balding

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Team GB had this message

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Diving world champion and Olympic medallist

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British long-distance runner Jo Pavey

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Broadcaster Gabby Logan

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Sprinter Adam Gemili

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Former Olympic champion long jumper Greg Rutherford also tweeted his congratulations

British Athletics performance director Neil Black: “The entire performance team of coaches, athletes and support staff will miss her at events.

“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.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/37641093