The decision to retire by German marathoner Irina Mikitenko ends one of the finest modern-day careers in European distance running.
Mikitenko, 42, announced during the Berlin Marathon on Sunday that she was bowing out of the sport.
“I want to end my 25-year career,” said Mikitenko, speaking to ARD TV. “It is not easy but I must admit I am no longer able to improve.”
It was back in 2008 where, competing over the 26.2-miles for just the second time, Mikitenko first made her mark on the world stage when she won the London Marathon in 2:24:14.
She triumphed by 25 seconds from Svetlana Zakharova, of Russia, and her words afterwards were almost a prediction of what would follow next such was her determination at the distance.
Mikitenko said: “I would have liked to run faster. That is why I pushed the pace, because I felt I could run under 2:24. But I am delighted to win.”
Indeed, it was some platform for her exploits later in the year.
After that success in April, an injury prevented her running at the Olympic Games in Beijing but by the September she had taken her career to a new level when she won the Berlin Marathon in 2:19:19.
It was a stunning run, a German record and a time which remains one of the best ever.
Mikitenko remains second on the all-time European Athletics rankings behind Great Britain’s world record-holder Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25) and while back in 2008 it was the fourth fastest ever, now, six years later, it is still the seventh quickest run in history.
She retained her London Marathon title with victory in 2:22:00 in 2009 where, for the second year in a row, she also won the World Marathon Majors.
Mikitenko returned to London for the Olympics in 2012 where she finished 14th in 2:26:44.