February 9 - Katherine Reutter, America's two-time Olympic medal winner short-track speedskater, has announced her retirement just one year out of Sochi 2014.
The 24-year-old (pictured top) had been aiming to make the United States team for the Winter Olympics in Russia next year but she explained that recurring injuries had been taking their toll and helped her make the difficult decision to call time on her career.
"I have been struggling with injuries for quite some time and have come to the realisation that my body can no longer withstand the demands of training at this level," said Reutter, who won a silver medal in the 1,000 metres and a bronze in the team relay at Vancouver 2010.
"I've been blessed to have had a great deal of success in my career, foremost of which are my experiences at the Olympic Games.
"I'm eternally grateful to my fellow competitors who pushed me to be my best, to my teammates, my coaches, US Speedskating, the USOC, the members of the media who shared my story, and a long list of incredible sponsors who supported me.
"Most of all, as I step away from the sport , I thank my incredible fans - my Reutter's Rooters, and I thank my family, without whom none of this would have been possible nor been nearly as much fun.
"I wish Team USA the very best next year in Sochi and beyond.
"I will forever be proud to call myself an Olympian."
As well as her Winter Olympic accolades Reutter was the 2011 world champion in the 1,500m, the first American woman to hold the title since Bonnie Blair - the athlete who inspired her to take up the sport - in 1986, and went on to become the overall World Cup champion in that same year.
Collectively, she won 34 medals in World Cup competition, 42 medals in international events and was a four-time US national short track champion in the 1,000m.
"When I heard that Katherine was retiring from speedskating today, I was both happy and sad," said her former coach Michael McDonnell.
"Happy that she will be moving on to new challenges (and I know how much she loves being challenged) and sad that there will no longer be an opportunity to watch Katherine skate in competition.
"Since the first time we met I knew that Katherine had something special.
"She sat in my office as a 16-year-old and said, 'Coach, I'm going to be in the Olympics,' I believed her and have enjoyed every minute of her climb to the top."
Reutter had been a prominent figure during the recent coaching controversy in her sport, with former US coach Jae Su Chun calling her "fat" and pushing her to skate at times she thought were physically and mentally impossible.
Despite denying accusations by a dozen national team members of physical, emotional and verbal abuse, and of ordering speedskater Simon Cho to sabotage the skates of a Canadian rival, Chun and his assistant Jun Hyung Cho both resigned in October last year after accepting suspensions from US Speedskating through to February 2014.
"Katherine has been a great champion and she will continue to be an incredible ambassador for the sport," said Mark Greenwald, executive director of US Speedskating.
"Her announcement is bitter sweet for all of us, but it takes a great deal of maturity and a keen understanding of one's limitations for a world-class athlete like Katherine to make the decision to retire.
"I am very happy she will continue to be involved with US Speedskating in a meaningful and impactful way."
Reutter will now focus on finishing her exercise physiology degree and plans to teach others about health and fitness.
Although she is retiring from competitive skating, she will remain active in the sport, serving as one of three athlete reps on the US Speedskating board of directors through to 2014, as well as travelling to Poland for the Junior Short Track World Championships as the team leader.
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