French sprinter Christine Arron, the European 100m record-holder at 10.73 and a winner of nine medals at major international championships, announced her retirement at age 39 on Sunday (16).
“It is the decision to have another child that led me to call this decision, not because I feel too old or because I lost motivation”, explained Arron, who is four months pregnant.
Born in 1973 on the French island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, Arron started athletics in 1984 after having originally practised karate.
As a youth, she broke the first of her 30 French records in 1988 and the following year caught many people’s eye internationally when she won the under-17 100m title at the prestigious Carifta Games.
As a promising teenage sprinter, she moved to Paris in 1992 but she was plagued by injuries and initially focused on 400m.
It was not until 1997 that she returned to the shorter sprints, and with immediate success, winning the 200m European Cup and placing fourth in the first of the five IAAF World Championships 100m finals she contested across a ten-year span.
Brilliant in Budapest
The highlight of her career occurred in 1998 as she was elected European Athlete of the Year after sensational results at the European Athletics Championships In Budapest, where she won the 100m in 10.73, which still makes her the fifth-fastest performer of all-time.
She also helped France win the 4x100m relay gold medals in the Hungarian capital with an outstanding anchor leg.
In 2003, a year after her son Ethan was born, Arron added a World Championships gold medal in the 4x100m relay, taking the title with her teammates Patricia Girard, Muriel Hurtis and Sylviane Félix in front of their home crowd in Paris’s Stade de France.
She also ran the anchor leg for the 4x100m quartet that finished third at 2004 Olympic Games, and in 2005 she took two individual World Championships bronze medals over 100m and 200m.
She had arthroscopic surgery and a hip fracture in 2008 but decided to continue her career and competed at the 2012 European Athletics Championships, unaware that she was almost two months pregnant.
Arron was recently promoted to the rank of France's Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her outstanding sporting career and achievements.
PJ Vazel for the IAAF