Three-time Olympic medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi is ending his decorated career as a middle-distance runner, saying he no longer takes pleasure in training.
Mekhissi, 37, announced his decision in an interview with L’Equipe sports daily published on Wednesday.
“I’m stopping because the desire is no longer there,” said Mekhissi, who took part in three editions of the Games.
He won silver in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, and bronze in Rio in 2016. Mekhissi also holds two bronze world medals and set the 3,000 meters steeplechase European record of 8 minutes, 00.09 seconds in 2013.
“I don’t enjoy training anymore. I felt that it was time to say stop,” the five-time European champion told the newspaper. “I ran to be world champion, Olympic champion, win medals, break records. To reach these goals, if you don’t have the desire, there’s no point in keeping on going. It was no longer there, and I wanted to move on, to do something else with my life.”
Mekhissi, who for long fell short only against the Kenyans in global competitions, was stripped of European gold in the 3,000 meters in 2014 for taking off his shirt and bib for the last 100 meters of the race.
Three days later he outran all opposition in the 1,500 meters, leaving opponents standing with 450 meters to go with a devastating kick for home.
“That day, frankly, I reached a level I had never had,” he told L’Equipe. “I reached my peak. I’m proud of myself. I was down on one knee, and I got up.”