British Olympics medalist, Jessica Ennis-Hill retires from athletics
It’s one of my toughest decisions, she says
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 yesterday, 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.
BBC athletics commentator Brendan Foster described her as “one of the all-time British greats”.
He added: “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.
“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.
“It’s a sad day for the sport – but a great day for her.”
Former British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton told BBC Sport she thinks Ennis-Hill “will love not having to go to the track”.
She added: “Two years ago she had her first child and she is a very family oriented person. She’s quite private, she’s not flash, she wants to have more children. So I think she will slot into her life outside of the sport.
“I hope she continues to play a part in sport, because she has a lot of great attributes that she can share to help future generations.”
Foster also believes she will have a future role to play in athletics.
“The sport will be foolish not to keep her on at some level, she is a huge asset,” he said.
“She has been up, she’s been down, she has won, she’s lost, but at every point she has conducted herself magnificently.
“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.”
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.”
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.”