Kelly Sotherton has admitted to being "heartbroken" after confirming her retirement through injury two months before she hoped to compete at the London Olympics.
The 35-year-old former Commonwealth Games champion and Olympic bronze medal-winning heptathlete officially called time on her career on Sunday, a little over a week after undergoing an operation to remove part of a disc from her back.
It brings to an end an ambitious but ultimately doomed attempt to return to top-level competition in the heptathlon, an event a previous back injury had caused her to abandon in 2010 in favour of the 400 metres, and she said: "I'm heartbroken if I'm honest, but I'm looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead."
Sotherton had been attempting to meet the Olympic qualifying standard at an IAAF Combined Events Challenge in Italy earlier this month when she broke down during the 200m.
By the time she had surgery, she knew the injury would leave her insufficient time to get back on track before the British squad is announced, ending the quest.
The British athlete said: "After losing my funding at the end of the 2011 season, having been forced to concentrate on the 400m for a year because of injury, I decided if I was going to do this myself then I would have one final shot at my first love - the heptathlon - and really go for the chance to compete at a home Olympics.
"Sadly it wasn't meant to be and the body didn't quite hold out long enough for me."
Retirement brings the curtain down on a career highlighted by the bronze medal at the Athens Olympics and the Commonwealth title in Melbourne in 2006. Sotherton also won bronze at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, and finished fourth at the Olympics in Beijing four years ago.
In the pentathlon, Sotherton won silver at the World Indoors in Valencia in 2008 to go with European Indoor silvers in Madrid from 2005 and Birmingham from 2007.
"I'm so proud to have represented my country and to have won an Olympic medal, among other accolades, and am grateful to all the support I have received over the years from those around me," Sotherton added. "It's a really exciting time for sport in this country so I'm looking forward to enjoying it over the next few months."