Birmingham triple jumper Ashia Hansen has shelved her bid for one last Olympic hurrah and retired from the sport that at her peak made her one of the biggest names in athletics.
The 36-year-old, who was twice world indoor champion, a world record holder and a Commonwealth gold medal winner, was hoping to qualify for this summer’s Olympics through the national trials at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham this weekend, but she has finally admitted that seasons of injury have left her unable to compete at the top level.
The Birchfiled Harrier is one of the most outstanding athletes to have come out of the city in the last 20 years but she never fully recovered from a serious knee injury in 2004 and her recent attempts to make Beijing always seemed destined for disappointment.
“It would have been great to have competed at the Aviva National Championships this weekend, but sadly it’s not to be,” Hansen said. “I’m just not in a position to compete at the level I would want to.
“It has just become clear to me that I can no longer train through the pain of injury as I used to do. It’s time to take the pressure of myself.”
That pressure - and the fact she missed out on as certain an Olympic medal as there can ever have been when she damaged her patella months before the Athens games, compelled her to strive for one last appearance on the highest stage.
She had not competed outdoors since July 2006 because of a series of hamstring, knee and Achilles issues, but made a return in Crete last month only to finish fourth with a disappointing distance of 13.31 metres. With the Olympic qualifying standard set at 14.20m - a jump she has not made for four years, it became clear she was not going to make it.
She even picked up a niggle in that event and was forced to miss training and have scans on her Achilles though it was undoubtedly the horrific knee ligament damage she sustained competing for her country in the European Cup that cost her most dearly.
Recovery from that was not helped by the fact she suffered a deep vein thrombosis on her return from Poland that threatened her life. To even get back on to the runway last month was commendable in itself.
However, Hansen should be remembered for what she has achieved, which is a record almost unparalleled in a generation, and her outstanding work promoting the sport.
It is these duties to which she will now devote her time, after receiving an award in recognition of her contribution during a special presentation in Sunday’s programme.
“I can have few complaints given what I have achieved in my career,” she said. “Looking back I held a world record and I earned an MBE as well as all the pleasure I have taken from being involved in athletics.
“I now hope to put some of that back as part of the Norwich Union performance advisor programme, but the immediate aim is to enjoy a rest and look forward to getting married next May.”
UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos paid tribute to Hansen’s career. “Ashia Hansen will go down as a truly world class performer who reached the absolute peak of her event. British athletics was lucky to have her. I know that she will be a success at whatever she decides to do next.”
At the other end of the scale there was some success for Midlands youngsters at the World Junior championships - coincidently taking place at the same Bydgoszcz arena in which Hansen sustained her injury.
Birchfield Harrierd team-mate Meghan Beesley qualified for Thursday's 400m hurdles semi-finals but she did it the hard way having clattered the second barrier and nearly fallen to the track. She managed to battle back to finish third in her heat but one wonders how much she will have left to make the final. Especially given the fact she needed treatment on the knee that hit the hurdle.
Her former Tamworth team-mate Nathan Woodward did exactly the same thing in the men's event but could not recover and missed out on a place in one of three semis by just two-tenths of a second.