Louise Hazel hangs up her spikes

Heptathlete announces her retirement from the sport following a 12-year career

Louise Hazel (Mark Shearman)

Louise Hazel has announced her retirement from the sport following a 12-year career as an international heptathlete.

Although hanging up her spikes from a competitive point of view, the 27-year-old is not turning her back on sport altogether, as she will focus on the launch of an online fitness and nutrition regime, The Podium Effect, and fulfil her role as ”running champion” for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Hazel’s career was highlighted by Commonwealth gold in Delhi in 2010 and she says she achieved far more than she expected, especially when going on to compete in the Olympics two years later.

Although she competed indoors this year, the Birchfield Harrier has struggled finding her way back to full fitness due to injury and felt the time was right to take up other opportunities.

Hazel, who is seventh on the UK all-time list for heptathlon with her score of 6166, gave a number of reasons for her decision to retire.

“I really enjoyed last season and the Olympic Games was well worth all the years of sacrifice,” said Hazel, who was 27th at the Games. “I felt like it was the right time for me really.”

She added: “Sponsorships and endorsements, as many athletes found, were very hard to come by after the Olympic Games so that uphill struggle begins all over again as you look to the next Olympic cycle. I felt it was the right time for me to take the momentum that I had coming off the Olympics next year to channel my energies and focus into something else.”

One of those projects will be The Podium Effect, an online weight-loss programme which will include personalised training advice.

She said: “During the indoor season when I was trying to plan my way back to full fitness, I was thinking that this was something I could apply to the everyday person and I noticed there was a gap in the market for a programme that was essentially continuous and echoed an athlete’s lifestyle.”

She added: “I wanted them to get an ounce of what we do every day as athletes and for that to be accessible.”

Hazel, who competed at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, is also looking forward to taking part in the Blenheim Palace 10km on October 6 in support of the BHF.

“It’s very close to my heart following the passing of my father due to a heart condition in 2008,” she said. “Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK and I think it’s so unnecessary in this day and age with all the advances in technology and all the information we have about nutrition and diet and exercise that people are still getting it wrong. It also echoes the values behind The Podium Effect as well.”

» Louise Hazel, Running Ambassador for The British Heart Foundation, has today (September 2) launched The Podium Effect® www.thepodiumeffect.com. To donate to The British Heart Foundation visit justgiving.com/TeamHazel.

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