Australia’s most successful male Olympic athlete and the first male Australian to win two Olympic medals in the same Games since St Louis 1904, race walker Jared Tallent, will miss Tokyo 2020 after injury forced him to announce his retirement at the age of 36.
It ends his hopes of competing in a fourth consecutive Olympic Games and adding to the medals he had won at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Tallent has suffered a recurring hamstring injury and decided to retire after it prevented him from competing at Australia’s national championships last month.
“I had planned for Tokyo to be my swansong, but I’ve had a number of setbacks from an injury to my hamstring, with the latest one putting a halt to my final preparations for the Australian 50km Race Walking Championships,” Tallent said.
“Unfortunately, that was the last chance for me to qualify for Tokyo, so it is with mixed emotion that I announce my retirement from elite sport.
“I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved.
“To go to an Olympics is an achievement, and then to go on to win three medals in a row in one event is something I’ll never forget.”
“The medals I’ve won at the Olympics are by far my highlight as they were beyond my wildest dreams when I started race walking all those years ago”, he said.
Tallent had been awarded the Olympic gold medal in the 50 kilometres walk at London 2012 belatedly after the original winner, Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin, was disqualified for doping.
The Ballarat-born athlete had also won Olympic silver and bronze medals in the 50km and 20km race walks at Beijing 2008.
Tallent also won two medals in the 20km walk at the Commonwealth Games, a silver at Melbourne 2006 and gold at Delhi 2010.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates paid tribute to “a wonderful competitor.”
“I was honoured to be able to present Jared’s gold medal from London 2012 in Melbourne four years later,” Coates said.
“Presenting an Olympic medal is an honour, but even more so to be part of rectifying the injustice perpetrated on Jared by a doping cheat.”