The Olympic 400 metres champion, Cathy Freeman, has retired. Australia's head coach, Keith Connor, revealed that her decision would take effect immediately and she would not be running in the 4x400m relay at next month's World Championships in Paris.
"She's not going to compete in Paris and she has in fact retired," Connor said. "It's very sad news for the team and for athletics, but it also puts an end to speculation as to what she was going to do."
Connor, who met Freeman in London yesterday before joining the Australian training camp near Rome, said that she no longer had the desire to compete at the top level.
Freeman admitted the realisation had hit her that her gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, which had carried the weight of expectation of the entire Australian nation, was a high point to which she could not return.
"I won't ever have the same fulfilling moment as I already have had," Freeman said. "I don't have the same hunger. I know what it takes to be a champion and I just don't have that feeling right now. I'm tired all of a sudden.
"I've lost that want, that desire, that passion, that drive. I don't care anymore. It's not been easy to get to the point where I'm at now. I felt I wasn't yet ready to say it aloud."
Freeman pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester last year to look after her husband, Sandy Bodecker, who was suffering from cancer. She returned to training in January this year.