Olympic bronze medallist Tasha Danvers hangs up her spikes
Since 2008, the year in which she won a surprise bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, Tasha Danvers has raced just four times in her specialist event. But with just one week to go before the Olympic Trials for the London 2012 Games, the 400m hurdler has admitted defeat in her long-term battle for fitness and today announced her retirement from the sport.
Following her success in Beijing, Danvers relocated from the US to move back to the UK, where she linked up with esteemed hurdles coach Malcolm Arnold.
She told AW earlier this week that, despite another injury-savaged winter, she had not ruled out her chances of making the Olympic team. But with the Trials looming ever closer, the 34-year-old realised that she wouldn’t be ready to line up alongside the likes of European bronze medallist Perri Shakes-Drayton and Commonwealth silver medallist Eilidh Child.
“It’s extremely disappointing not to be able to put myself into contention for selection for London 2012,” she said. “Based on my training at different stages, my coach and I believed we had a genuine chance of making it. But the setbacks have been too many to overcome.
“Since winning Olympic bronze in Beijing I have made so many sacrifices to fulfill my dream of competing in London. Making the decision to relocate back to the UK meant leaving my seven-year-old son behind in America which is the hardest thing in the world to do.
“But we genuinely believed I could step on to that podium again and with the support of my family, Malcolm Arnold, UKA, the medical team and the National Lottery, I’ve done everything possible to try to achieve that. Sadly my body has had enough.”
Danvers made a breakthrough in 1998 when, at the age of 20, she won the UK title and finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games that year. The following year she won the European under-23 title, and in 2000 made the Olympic final.
She made great strides forward in 2003 when she chopped her PB down to 54.02, but then had to skip the 2004 season when she fell pregnant. Less than 18 months after giving birth to her son, Danvers won Commonwealth silver in 2006, then enjoyed her best season to date in 2008 when she struck bronze in Beijing with a lifetime best of 53.84.
Despite the numerous injuries she had sustained since then, Danvers still showed promise in her training sessions, leading to the decision by UK Athletics and UK Sport to keep her on lottery funding.
“This is the worse possible news for Tasha, but there is no doubt she has thrown everything at trying to make London,” said her coach, Arnold. “She is an Olympic medallist and that pedigree doesn’t just disappear, I was confident that if we could get her to the Games she would have been very competitive.
“This is the flipside of the Olympic dream but career ending injuries are a fact of life at this level of sport. Our medical team have worked incredibly hard but sometimes the body knows best.”
Head Coach Charles van Commenee said: “We don’t have too many current Olympic medallists in our team and in an ideal world they would all be with us in London. Tasha knows what it takes to be competitive and make the podium, which would have been a huge advantage.
“Retirement is a hard decision for any athlete, but when the decision is taken out of your hands so close to an Olympic Games it must be even tougher. I wish Tasha all the very best.”