Natallia Dobrynska, the 2008 Olympic heptathlon champion, announced her retirement from athletics last Sunday (October 27).
The Ukrainian athlete revealed the news at the Dynamo Kyiv vs Illichivets football match during a special ceremony at half time, a stadium Dobrynska holds close to her heart.
“I trained and competed here at the Olimpiyskiy stadium for many years and set my first national record here, that’s why it is very symbolic that I announced my retirement here,” she told the IAAF.
Dobrynska will bow out of the sport with her head held high after collecting numerous prestigious international medals. As well as her Olympic glory in Beijing, the 31-year-old boasts one gold and two silver World Indoor medals, European outdoor silver in 2010 and indoor bronze in 2005.
The Ukrainian’s retirement comes despite holding good form. Last year, at the World Indoor Championships, Dobrynska became the first woman in history to score more than 5,000 points in the pentathlon.
Her triumph in Istanbul was dampened weeks later though, when her husband and coach Dmitriy Polyakov died suddenly of cancer. Nevertheless, Dobrynska attempted to defend her Olympic title later that year.
The London 2012 Olympics turned out to be the heptathlete’s final competition of her career, a contest she was unfortunately unable to complete.
“It’s always difficult for athletes to retire,” Dobrynska revealed to the IAAF. “You always think that you could do more. But I’d reached a point where I wasn’t able to compete as strong as before. I had the fitness and I had prepared for the World Championships in Moscow, but I lost the required fighting spirit. You should respect what you are doing.”
In a recent election Dobrynska was voted as the vice chair of the EOC Athletes Commission, a post she hopes will open many opportunities for her and help her to develop sport in Ukraine.
For now though, the 31-year-old is focused on learning fluent English, and will visit Britain for one month in December to aid her learning.