London 2012 golden girl Jess Ennis-Hill insists she is bowing out on a high after bringing down the curtain on one of Britain’s finest track and field careers.
Ennis-Hill, who won two World Championship titles as well as her defining triumph at her home Olympic Games, confirmed her retirement on Thursday after a decade of success in elite competition.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Ennis-Hill won her first world title in 2009 and overcame a lengthy absence from the sport to claim a second in 2015.
She could yet be awarded a third, owing to uncertainty over the fate of Tatyana Chernova, the Russian athlete who pipped her to gold in 2009 and was later found guilty of doping.
A second Olympic gold proved just beyond her reach in August, when she took silver behind Belgian Nafi Thiam in Rio. It proved to be her last act on the track.
Coach Toni Minichiello called her “one of our sporting greats”, while Denise Lewis, whose British record she broke at London 2012, said she had “inspired a generation of girls to follow their dreams”.
Minichiello added: “Many sportspeople hold on too long. Jess has managed to avoid walking out of the stadium after failing a qualifying round. She’s walking out of the stadium by stepping off the podium.”
British Athletics performance director Neil Black paid tribute to her “warm and positive presence within the GB team”.
He added: “Her record as an athlete is phenomenal and that’s without considering the challenges of returning from pregnancy to win world gold and Olympic silver.”