Athletics: Golden girl Lewis retires as illness and injuries take their toll

Denise Lewis will head to Singapore this weekend as an ex-athlete. The former Olympic heptathlon champion, who will be supporting London's bid for the 2012 Games before Wednesday's vote, has decided that, as a 32-year-old mother, her commitments in life have finally shifted.

After winning gold at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Lewis insisted that while one Olympic title was fine, she was really after two. But illness and injuries undermined her career from that point on and her Olympic defence in Athens last summer ended in tears as she pulled out with two events remaining.

In the meantime, the event has seen the inexorable rise of the young Swede who now holds all the major titles, Carolina Kluft, while on the domestic front, Lewis's training partner, Kelly Sotherton, has emerged as Kluft's main challenger after taking an unexpected bronze medal in Greece.

"After so many setbacks, the messages come through loud and clear," said Lewis, who was prompted to make her announcement after a tonsil infection requiring hospital treatment forced her to abandon her plans to compete in this summer's World Championships in Helsinki.

"It is a very emotional decision. I do not make decisions very lightly and it was a combination of the injuries I have had to face and the constant battle of trying to reproduce my form. There comes a point when you have to take stock and you just don't want to be in pain any more."

There had been speculation that Lewis, who also won Olympic bronze in 1996 and two World Championship silvers, in 1997 and 1999, might try to hang on for another few months to compete at Melbourne in next year's Commonwealth Games, the event where she made her breakthrough in 1994. But it is clear that her enthusiasm now lies more with making an impact in the world of showbusiness following her successful performances in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing programme.

In the meantime, the woman who took the opportunity of an appearance on another then BBC programme, Parkinson, to decry Britain's "third world sporting facilities", will be waving the flag for London's nascent enterprise.

As Lewis retires, another Olympic champion who has already signalled her intent of leaving either at the end of this year or early in the next, Kelly Holmes, has been forced to drop out of this weekend's meeting in Cork because of the Achilles tendon problem which kept her out of this month's European Cup.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there