On this day in 2013: Olympic champion Nicole Cooke retires from cycling

Nicole Cooke won Britain’s first gold of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (John Giles/PA) (PA Archive)
Nicole Cooke won Britain’s first gold of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (John Giles/PA) (PA Archive)

Former Olympic road race champion Nicole Cooke retired from cycling with immediate effect on this day in 2013.

Born in Swansea, she was a trailblazer for cycling in Britain and in 2008 became the first rider, male or female, to win Olympic and world road race gold in the same year.

Announcing the decision to call time on her 13-year career, the 10-time British champion said: “My time in the sport is finished. I am very happy with my career.

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“I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life’s work since I was 12. I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win.”

Cooke, who retired at the age of 29, was a four-time world junior champion.

After turning professional, she won gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, before becoming the youngest rider to win the Giro d’Italia – aged 21 – in 2004 following on from triumph at the 2003 World Cup.

Cooke won Britain’s maiden gold of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in heavy rain by the Great Wall of China – the first claimed by a Welsh athlete since 1972 – and backed that up with World Championship gold later that year in Italy.

Four years on, she was part of the team as Lizzie Armitstead won road race silver for Britain’s first medal of London 2012.

Cooke had thought she could put an indifferent four years behind her and mount a defence of her title, but finished only 31st.

Following her retirement, British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: “There is no doubt that Nicole has been a pioneering force in women’s cycling.”