Irish race-walker Gillian O’Sullivan has today announced her retirement from competitive athletics at the age of 30.
The Kerry native is the current world record holder in the 5000m, a record she set in Santry in 2002 at the Irish National Championships.
She is also the current Irish record holder in the 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m and holds the 10,000m and 20,000m Irish road records.
O’Sullivan’s best performance came in 2003 when she took second in the 20km Walk at the World Championships in Paris.
She has struggled with injuries and illness in recent years however, and this has contributed to today's decision.
"To retire from competing was always going to be a huge decision for me but I have put a lot of thought into it and I feel now is the best time to move on," she said.
"Athletics has been so good to me but it has got to the stage where with some of the problems I’ve had I didn’t feel I could get back to the heights I hit in 2002 and 2003 and to leave now I can be happy with everything I have achieved and not have any regrets.
"I want to thank Athletics Ireland, the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council for all their help and support throughout my career.
"For the future I have no immediate plans but I would certainly love to be involved in athletics at some level down the line and maybe I will look at getting involved in coaching."
Liam Hennessy, chair of the Athletics Ireland High Performance Committee, was full of praise for her outstanding career.
"Gillian is a huge loss to us, but her place in the history of Irish athletics is assured," he said. "From her excellent performance in Sydney to her moment of true greatness in Paris she has been one of Ireland’s best.
"These are my abiding memories of Gillian along with that of a supremely talented athlete with a burning determination to succeed.
"On behalf of Athletics Ireland and myself I want to wish her all the best for the future."
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue paid tribute to O'Sullivan.
"Gillian has been a fantastic athlete, competing with great success for a number of years," said O'Donoghue. "She should have great pride in what she has achieved in such a short space of time.
"Gillian has also brought great pride to the people of Kerry and Ireland and her achievements will always have a special place in Irish sporting history.
"I wish her all the best in her life after competing and let us hope that this will not be the last time we see Gillian involved in the sporting arena."