December 12, 2007 / 4:26 PM / 12 years ago

Triple Olympic champion Ponor retires

Catalina Ponor of Romania performs on the balance beam during the 26th European Artistic Gymnastics championships in Volos, Greece April 30, 2006. The triple Olympic champion has decided to retire for health reasons, a Romanian Gymnastics Federation (FRG) official said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Triple Olympic champion Catalina Ponor has decided to retire for health reasons, a Romanian Gymnastics Federation (FRG) official said on Wednesday.

“Ponor has failed to overcome her back problems, so she has decided to put an end to her activity as an athlete,” FRG president Adrian Stoica told reporters on Wednesday.

Now 20, she led Romania to the team title at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and also won individual gold medals in the balance beam and floor exercises. She also won five European championship gold medals from 2004-06.

Ponor had previously retired in 2006 but changed her mind several months later and went on to compete at the 2007 world championships in Germany, with the aim of going through to the 2008 Olympic Games.

“Ponor’s absence is a great loss for our team at next year’s Olympics,” Stoica said. “But we hope to grow new talents able to produce surprises in Beijing.”

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