Australia’s former Olympic champion racewalker Jared Tallent has announced his retirement after injury stymied his bid to qualify for a fourth Summer Games in Tokyo later this year.
The 36-year-old, who won gold in the 50km walk at the 2012 Olympics retrospectively and also took silver in the event at the 2008 and 2016 Games, ends his career as the most decorated male Australian in track and field.
“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 this weekend,” 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.”
Tallent finished second in the race at the London Olympics but was named champion in 2016 after three Russians, including race winner Sergey Kirdyapkin, were disqualified for doping offences.
A three-times world championship silver medallist, the Australian was vocal in a campaign to rid the sport of systematic doping and still believes cheating robbed him of a world title in 2011.
Tallent finished third in that race in Daegu, South Korea, beaten by Russians Sergey Bakulin and Denis Nizhegorodov. Both subsequently failed dope tests.
Bakulin was stripped of his title but Nizhegorodov’s “B” sample did not back up the positive test in his “A” sample and he retains the gold medal.
“I am very proud of my career and what I achieved but the one frustration or regret I have is I didn’t become a world champion,” Tallent, the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I should be the world champion but the Russian who beat me still has it. That’s the one regret or frustration out of my career that I didn’t become a world champion as well and get the complete set.”
Tallent will now miss out on what could be the last running of the 50km walk at an Olympics. The event has been dropped from the schedule for the 2024 Paris Games because there is no equivalent race for women.
AOC president John Coates said Tallen holds a special place in the nation’s Olympic history.
“I was honoured to be able to present Jared’s gold medal from London 2012 in Melbourne four years later,” Coates. “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.
“Throughout his career Jared has displayed incredible dignity, humility and passion for fairness and I know Jared will continue to find success in whatever path he chooses to walk next.”