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Javier Fernandez confirms figure skating retirement plan

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Javier Fernandez, Spain’s lone Olympic figure skating medalist, will compete for the last time at the European Championships in January, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

Fernandez, 27, previously said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. He skipped the fall Grand Prix Series in favor of focusing on Europeans, which he has won the last six years.

The Madrid native earned Olympic bronze in South Korea, adding to his 2015 and 2016 World titles and becoming Spain’s third Winter Games medalist in the last 45 years.

Fernandez said in 2016 that after every competition — win or lose — the Spanish royal family sent a letter to his home in Spain. After he repeated as world champion in 2016, the correspondence included an invitation to the Zarzuela Palace.

Fernandez, from a nation with maybe 20 ice rinks, made his world championships debut in 2007 and finished 35th out of 42 skaters.

He would have earned a medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics if not for repeating a free-skate jump that cost him enough points to drop from third to fourth. A rule change the following season, had it been in place in Sochi, would have made Fernandez the bronze medalist in 2014.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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Oldest Olympic high jump champion retires

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Spain’s Ruth Beitia, who in Rio became the oldest Olympic high jump champion by six years, announced her retirement at age 38 on Wednesday.

Beitia was pending medical results for possible arthritis, according to Marca.

She followed her Olympic title with silver at the European Indoor Championships in March but didn’t crack the top three at any 2017 Diamond League meet and was 12th at the world championships in August, her final meet.

Beitia capped a decorated career in Rio with her first Olympic medal. She did so against a field that did not include the reigning Olympic or world champions from Russia.

Beitia cleared 1.97 meters to win in Rio, the shortest gold-medal height since 1980, to become the oldest Olympic gold medalist in any jumping event. German long jumper Heike Drechsler previously held the age record.

Two women in the Rio heptathlon — gold medalist Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium and Brit Katarina Johnson-Thompson — cleared 1.98 meters in that competition.

Beitia previously retired after finishing fourth at the 2012 Olympics, then came back to win her first World Outdoor Championships medal, a bronze, in 2013.

“A medal in Rio would be the last dream I have left to accomplish in this sport,” she said before the Olympics.

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