Two-time world and four-time European champion Dafne Schippers has brought her illustrious career on the track to an end at the age of 31.
In a post to announce her retirement on social media, Schippers said: “The race stops here. As an athlete, you always know this day will come, that at one point, your career will be a moment in time—a collection of memories and hopefully medals.
“Today, I have decided to take my life off track to pursue and embrace whatever comes next, but not without saying a massive thank you for all the endless support. It has been a journey without regret.”
Schippers initially found success in the combined events, winning world and European U20 titles in the heptathlon and a breakthrough bronze at senior level at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow where she slashed seven seconds from her 800m lifetime best to ensure her place on the podium.
But Schippers had always showed an aptitude for the sprints in her junior days, making her debut at the World Athletics Championships in 2011 in the 200m when she was still a teenager and helping the Netherlands to a silver medal in the 4x100m at the 2012 European Athletics Championships, their first in the event since 1950.
The Dutchwoman shifted her focus away from the combined events to the sprints in the summer of 2014 and just months later, Schippers came away with a memorable 100/200m double at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich before showing her all-round ability by adding the 60m title to her resume at the 2015 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
The Dutchwoman was at the height of her powers in the summer of 2015. She won 100m silver behind the incomparable Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and 200m gold at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing in a still-standing European record of 21.63, breaking a mark which had been held jointly by East Germans Marita Koch and Heike Drechsler at 21.71.
After defending her 100m title on home soil at the 2016 European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam where she also helped the Dutch to gold in the 4x100m, Schippers couldn’t quite add an Olympic title to her list of honours, settling for silver in the 200m behind eventual five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah from Jamaica in 2016.
Schippers went on to retain her world 200m title in London the following year before winning three more medals at the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin and a silver medal in the 60m at the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
That medal proved to be the last medal of her prolific and illustrious career before persistent back problems blighted her last few seasons, leaving her short of form at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and forcing her to miss the 2022 European Athletics Championships in Munich.
Schippers was also crowned women’s European Athlete of the Year two years in a row in 2014 and 2015.