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Jessica Ennis-Hill retires from track and field

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London Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said she’s retiring because she wants to leave “on a high,” ending one of the greatest heptathlon careers at age 30.

“This has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make,” Ennis-Hill’s Instagram read Thursday. “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.”

At London 2012, Ennis-Hill was part of Great Britain’s “Super Saturday,” winning one of three gold medals by the host nation in track and field that evening.

Ennis-Hill took a break in 2014 for childbirth and then made the Rio Olympics her finale. She took silver behind Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiem.

Ennis-Hill also won world titles in 2009 and 2015 but is ending her career less than one year before the 2017 World Championships in London’s Olympic Stadium. Ennis-Hill has said she wants to be upgraded from 2011 Worlds silver to gold after Russian titlist Tatyana Chernova was found in 2013 to have doped in 2009.

“We’ve known for a long time this day was coming,” her longtime coach, Toni Minichiello, said on a coachtorio.com. “Many sports people 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. She’s one of our sporting greats. It seems fitting this way.”

In Rio, Ennis-Hill joined Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the only women to win Olympic heptathlon titles and return to take a medal in the event in the following Games.

Olympic Heptathlon Medals
1. Jackie Joyner Kersee (USA) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 silver
3. Denise Lewis (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 bronze

World Heptathlon Medals
1. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 3 gold
2. Sabine Braun (GER) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 2 gold, 1 silver
4. Eunice Barber (FRA) — 1 gold, 2 silver

Heptathlon All-Time List
1. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) — 7,291 points (Kersee has the top six totals all-time)
2. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 7,032 points
3. Larisa Turchinskaya (URS) — 7,007 points
4. Sabine Braun (GER) — 6,985 points
5. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 6,955 points

Great Britain has a strong heptathlon tradition, one that should be extended by Olympics sixth-place finisher Katarina Johnson-Thompson, 23, and 2014 World junior champion Morgan Lake, 19.

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Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

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Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

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Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

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Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

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