Jonathan Edwards, Britain’s 35-year-old World and Olympic triple jump champion, could retire from full-time competition at the end of the 2002 season.
“I’ve got a blank piece of paper with retirement written at the top,” Edwards said. “The reality of the past couple of months is that I’m at a period in my life where I just might write on that piece of paper I’m retiring tomorrow.”
Edwards first won the IAAF world title in Goteburg in 1995, where he twice broke the world record, leaping 18.16 and then 18.29 metres. The latter mark still stands as the world record.
A silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 was seen as a major disappointment, and Edwards was unable to win gold at either the 1997 or 1999 IAAF World Championships.
But in Sydney last year, the quiet, clergyman’s son from north-east England rediscovered his winning form at the big event to finally capture the one honour that had eluded him in his lengthy career, the Olympic gold medal.
Edwards, world No.1 triple jumper for six years, reinforced his primacy with victory in Edmonton’s World Championships this year, jumping 17.92m.
Now, he has plans to defend his European title and to compete in his home country in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, but in an interview in a British newspaper, Edwards admitted that his athletics ambitions are beginning to wane.
“I plan to be in Manchester and Munich and I remain excited by the thought of that,” Edwards said. “But for the first time the option of stopping exists. It is a reality that I have never contemplated before.
“I view athletics differently now. The vocation I’ve always believed it to be is not as strong as it used to be.”
Edwards has only recently returned to training after a two-month post-season break. “I am a realist and I know that there here we are in late December and there are a lot of young, fit athletes already into serious training.
“I’m not as hungry as I was, but I still have a half-metre cushion over them - a country mile.”
Steven Downes for the IAAF