| Jonathan Edwards announces his retirement at a press conference in Paris on Friday. (AP)
Paris: Olympic triple jump champion and world record holder Jonathan Edwards will retire after the World Championships which opens Saturday.
Edwards, 37, who injured his right ankle at the London Grand Prix this month, told reporters Friday he would compete in Paris but then retire. The qualifying round is scheduled for Saturday with the final Monday.
“It’s a miracle that I’m fit enough to compete after my ankle injury,” he said. “That miracle has told me it’s time to call it a day and retire.”
Edwards, who has won Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth titles, took triple jumping into another dimension in 1995. The Briton, who had previously refused to compete on Sundays because of his religious beliefs, jumped past 18 m at the European Cup with a following wind above the allowable limit of 2m per second.
He set a world record of 17.98 m in Salamanca before competing at the World Championships in Gothenburg where he achieved the unprecedented feat of setting world records with his first two jumps. Edwards recorded 18.16 and 18.29 m, breaking the 18 m and 60-feet barrier.
His unbeaten run of 22 victories was ended by American Kenny Harrison at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, who took the gold medal ahead of the Briton.
Edwards finished second and third at the 1997 and 1999 world championships before returning to the top of the podium at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In the following year he won the world title in Edmonton, Canada. Last year he won his first Commonwealth title in Manchester.
Harrison is the only other man to jump further than 18 m and Edwards has recorded six of the top seven marks in the record books.
“I believe it is the right time for me to retire and now I have made the decision I feel happy with it,” Edwards said. “I feel quite emotional now but there will be no coming back. The question when I would retire has dogged me for the last two years but now the decision has been made I am peaceful about it. As I come into the World Championships it is still exciting and I will miss it because the sport has been great for me.”
Edwards has won 12 major championship medals in his career, including five golds. A vicar’s son, he refused to compete on a Sunday until 1993.