Long jumper Irving Saladino becomes Panama's first Olympic athletics champion (© Getty Images)
Panama’s Irving Saladino, the 2007 world long jump champion and 2008 Olympic champion, announced his retirement on Thursday (7).
"After conversation with my two coaches, Emilio Mora and Florencio Aguilar, I have decided to retire from competition after all the injuries I've had in recent years I want to thank everyone for the support," said Saladino, speaking in the offices of the Panama athletics federation.
Saladino, 31, remains his nation’s only Olympic gold medallist in any sport.
He joined the world’s elite in 2006 when he won five out of the six IAAF Golden League meetings that year and triumphed at the IAAF World Cup.
In 2007, he leapt an area record of 8.57m when winning at the World Championships in Osaka and the following year he went even farther in the Dutch city of Hengelo with a leap of 8.73m, a distance which currently places him eighth on the world all-time list.
However, after jumping 8.63m in Eugene in June 2009, Saladino started to suffer chronic injury problems.
He had three no jumps in the 2009 World Championships final and failed to get beyond the qualifying rounds in his three other appearances at global championships.
His last competitive outing was in May in the British city of Manchester, where he jumped 7.93m for second place.
However, he did acquire one last title this year, winning at the South American Games in Chile back in March in a season’s best of 8.16m.
Saladino suggested on Thursday that he will continue to keep contact with the sport, coaching youth athletes and he is also a Panamanian sporting ambassador-at-large.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF