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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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 x