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Jessica Ennis-Hill announced her retirement from athletics on this day in 2016 with her place in the pantheon of all-time great British Olympians already assured.
Tributes poured in from across the sporting world for the London 2012 gold medallist and three-time world champion, as Ennis-Hill admitted the decision to call time on her glittering heptathlon career was “one of the toughest” she had had to make.
A poster girl for the London Games, Ennis-Hill powered to gold on what became known as ‘Super Saturday’, and later battled back from time out through injury and the birth of her first child to reach the top of the world once more.
The 30-year-old wrote on Instagram: “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.”
Ennis-Hill contributed to one of the greatest days in British sporting history when she won gold in London, finishing 306 points ahead of Germany’s Lilli Schwarzkopf with a total of 6,955 points on the same night Mo Farah won the 10,000 metres and Greg Rutherford took the long jump crown at the Olympic Stadium.
She incredibly won the world title in Beijing in August 2015, 13 months after giving birth to son Reggie, before narrowly missing out on retaining her Olympic gold in Rio, where she finished runner-up to Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam by just 35 points.
Toni Minichiello, who coached Ennis-Hill throughout her career, felt she made her decision at the right time.
He said: “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.”
Ennis-Hill was made a dame in the 2017 New Year Honours list and gave birth to daughter Olivia later that year.