Discus world champion Dani Samuels has pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi due to security and health concerns, the Australian team said today.
"This is the hardest decision of my life and not one I took lightly," the bronze medallist from the 2006 Melbourne Games said in a statement.
"I love competing for Australia, winning a Commonwealth Games is important to me and something I've dreamed of.
"My whole year's training has been planned for this event but yesterday I couldn't even bring myself to train with stress and anxiety regarding the issues surrounding the Games."
The 22-year-old informed Australian team officials of her decision on Tuesday, two days after two Taiwanese nationals were wounded when suspected militants opened fire on a tourist bus outside the Jama Masjid mosque.
"Her reason, after great deliberation, is due to security and other potential problems to her health and well-being in New Delhi," Samuels's manager Hayden Knowles said.
"This was of such great concern to Dani that it was affecting her training, her health and her desire to participate."
Samuel's withdrawal strikes a huge blow for organisers, who have been at pains to assure athletes will be able to compete safely despite heightened security fears and some threats from militant groups that the Oct. 3-14 event would be targeted.
The Games has already been hit with several high profile withdrawals, including multiple Olympic champion Usain Bolt and Kenya's David Rudisha, who broke the 800 metres world record twice last month.
Organisers have also been embarrassed by the collapse of a footbridge just outside the main stadium that injured 23 people on Tuesday and have endured a raft of criticism from competing teams over unfinished and unclean athletes' accommodation.
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite said he respected Samuels's decision, but reiterated that the delegation had been advised that the level of security was "acceptable" for athletes to compete.
"We have held the position all along that it is the individual athlete's prerogative as to whether or not they wish to travel to Delhi and participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games," he said.
"It is a very personal decision and one which athletes must make in consultation with their family and individual support teams, and we accept and respect Dani's decision."
Samuels won gold at the world championships in Berlin last year.