Maria Mutola, seven time indoor world champion, an Olympic gold medalist, a three time world record holder at 1000 meters, winner of the $1 million IAAF Golden League jackpot in 1993, has decided that 2008 will be her last year of championship competition.
Mutola has changed the women’s 800 meters since her arrival on the scene in 1988. Mutola has been a factor in each championship race, indoor or outdoor, that she has taken part in over the past twenty years. She is known for her fast pace, and gruelling kicks over the last 200 meters.
In this excellent article by Chris Turner, the deity of the IAAF Web site, Mutola gives track fans her thoughts on the year of 2008:
Mozambiqueâ€™s Maria Mutola, the 2000 Olympic 800m champion, and arguably the greatest ever exponent of the art of womenâ€™s 800m racing both indoors and out, this afternoon officially declared that 2008 will be the last year of her distinguished career.
Through her representative Jeff Fund, who like Maria has become one of the most recognizable faces on the circuit in the last decade or so, Mutola who has blazed an unmatchable record over an international career of 20 years which stretches back to the 1988 Olympic Games, declared that:
â€œ2008 is a good year to step away from the track. With the World Indoor Championships in which I have had my most prolific run of success, and the Olympics, all in one year, how could I want for a better farewell,â€ said the 35-year-old star who has won seven World Indoor titles at 800m.
â€œBeijing was always going to be a high point for me, and so the time seems right. 17 years is a long time at the top (since 4th place at World champs in 1991) and after one final Olympic campaign it seems the perfect time to move on to other challenges,â€ concluded the three-time outdoor World champion.
Fund doesnâ€™t rule out the possibility that Mutola might still come back to run the occasional meeting though her championship ambitions will be no more after 2008.
â€œIn her mind I know she (Maria) expects to do well in Beijing, and after laser surgery this winter following further injury last year (Mutola was carried out on a stretcher from the Osaka World Championships Final) she is back healthy again.â€
â€œMutola is the reigning World Indoor champion and no one should forget how she was written off prior to winning that title in 2006, so anything is possible in Beijing,â€ confirmed Fund.
Starting in 1993, Mutola has so far made eight attempts at the World Indoor 800m crown and outstandingly has gathered seven golds and one silver medal. In the outdoor World Championships, she has taken three titles, with one silver and a bronze and two fourth places also to her credit. If there has been a frustration it is perhaps only securing one Olympic gold medal in her career, with fifth, fourth and third place finishes notched-up in her other final appearances.
Known affectionately to many as â€˜Million Dollar Mutolaâ€™ thanks to her triumphant winning of the entire $1 Million IAAF Golden League Jackpot in 2003, Mutola also burnished her name in the history of our sport in a more traditional way with a World record at 1000m (1995) and two World Indoor records for 1000m (1996 and 99), and set eight African records at 800m.
Overall Grand Prix winner in 1993 and 1995, Mutola also sped to four 800m wins at the World Cup for Africa and eight titles at an Area level via the African Champs (4 x 800m and 1 x 1500m) and Games (3 x 800). Mutola has run sub-2 minutes for 800m a total of 191 times from 1991 to 2007.
Chris Turner, IAAF Communications
For more information and pictures of Mutola, please click: http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=2/newsid=42982.html#mutola+declares+will+retire+2008