No-one knows when retirement can come calling

European Athletics

Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia.

The diverse and cruel nature of sport has presented itself in different ways this week.

In the Czech Republic, one former European champion has been forced to retire while in Russia, one current European champion is contemplating whether he should or not.

You would be unlikely to find Petr Svoboda and Yuriy Borzakovskiy racing against each other but is success all about seizing that moment, because you never know what is around in the corner?

In the first weekend of March in 2011, Paris hosted the European Athletics Indoor Championships.

The men's 60m hurdles was its typical fiery event, a blast from the blocks and a frenetic seven seconds or so of brilliant sprinting.

The man who took the gold was Svoboda, winning in 7.49 from Garfield Darien, of France, in 7.56 and Belgium's Adrien Deghelt, in 7.57.

A bronze medallist two years earlier in Turin, he looked on his way to even more gold after this blistering triumph.

But the year then turned sour with a heel injury, a problem that last week forced Svoboda to bow to the inevitable when, at the age of just 28, he was forced to announce his retirement.

His words said it all: "I don't want to quit but I have to. I can't see a miracle happening."

Since the spring of 2011, Svoboda has needed surgery on three occasions. He made the World championships in Daegu that summer where he was sixth in the 110m hurdles 13.38 and while he took the Czech national records to 13.27 outdoors and 7.44 indoors, the impact that he looked set to make on the sport in Paris was never allowed to happen.

But as Svoboda was left with no choice, Russian Borzakovskiy, the European 800m champion, now has to decide what to do.

The man who won the Olympic title in Athens in 2004 was back collecting gold in 2012 when he won the European crown in Helsinki.

But Moscow would not see his presence this summer as illness hindered his preparation and he missed out competing in front of his home crowd.
Now 32, talk is that he may not run again at a major event.

From Russia come reports by the ITAR-TASS agency that Borzakovskiy could be set to end his career to take a job at the country's endurance centre.

"If (the) Russian athletics federation trusts me to be the head of endurance centre, I'll finish my career for sure," said Borzakovskiy. "I am continuing in my training but I still don't know whether I will compete at official competitions or not. "My coach Vyacheslav Yevstratov is telling me to retire already for a long time. But what is the reason for retirement if I am still the fastest in the Russian team and feel the power to run quickly?"

Only time will tell. But either way, both Petr Svoboda and Yuriy Borzakovskiy have made their presence felt on the sport in Europe and their successes means their names will be among the history books for ever, even if they were worlds apart in knowing when the time was right to put the spikes away for good.