Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja Announces Retirement

Dec 4, 2018
by James Smurthwaite  
Hear her roar. With age comes cunning.

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja has announced her retirement from elite racing after a 24-year career.

The Olympic champion claimed her last win in Andorra this year at the age of 45 but has now decided to hang up her cleats. She ends her career with 30 World Cup wins, four World Cup overall titles, 10 World Championships and an Olympic gold medal.

In a post on Instagram, she said, "Decision is made. I did my last UCI WC. I raced my last Championship … and it feels okay. I stay passionate for our sport. My love for MTB will live strong for the rest of my life."


The Norwegian started elite racing in 1995 and won her first World Cup in 1996 in Hawaii. She consistently won races throughout the next 24 years and had her most prolific period in the mid-00s when she won four consecutive overall titles and the Athens Olympics. She will go down in history as one of the greatest ever cross country racers.

Tributes to the great racer have already started to pour in. Catharine Pendrel said, "Gunn-Rita you are such an inspiration. Thank you for showing us what is possible and doing it with passion and a smile," while Lea Davison added: "Congrats on an amazing and incredible career. We will miss you so much and we need to have a proper retirement party. Thanks for bringing so much fun and life to the World Cups."

Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa 45 years of age. 71 podiums in World Cups including today. 30 World Cup wins.

Full statement

"Decision is made. I did my last UCI WC. I raced my last Championship … and it feels okay. I stay passionate for our sport. My love for MTB will live strong for the rest of my life. I will continue to travel around the world promoting, motivating and sharing my experience for many more years. I do hope we meet somewhere for a nice talk and a good ride together. Thank you all for the great support. I will still be with you for many more years to come.”

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33 Comments

  • + 80
 Good for her. She's a total inspiration. The article doesn't mention that she found time to get married and have a kid while dominating the sport. Unbelievable!
  • + 13
 Sports research is showing that Women may be stronger athletes physically after child birth and perform better. But of course , like you say, you have to find the time to be an athlete.
  • + 43
 So she IS human. I was starting to think she would race until her 60s. She will be missed and cannot be replaced. One of a kind. A true legend.
  • + 37
 TWENTY-TWO years between her first and last World Cup victories. What an incredible career.
  • + 3
 Always have been a fan, and it wasn't till I saw it in writing of the article for how long she has been at the top of the sport.
  • + 2
 @onemind123: same. I didn’t want to put her success in terms of others in my first comment- but she was winning World Cups when Kate Courtney was learning to walk. Hope she enjoys her retirement, she’s earned it.
  • + 15
 It was amazing to see her pulling away in Andorra. I was yelling at my computer screen. Should be mentioned in any discussion of mountain bike GOATs along with ACC, Vouilloz, and others. What a legend.
  • + 11
 I am only a year younger than she is. Can't imaging racing WC XC and being competitive. What a bad ass career racing at the highest level. Kuds Gunn-Rita!
  • + 4
 And winning Andorra!!!!! Imagine! She IS really mrs MTB
  • + 7
 Wow, she has had a heck of a career. Has to be tough to make the decision to retire but sounds like she is ending on a positive note. Good luck to her in her future endeavours!
  • + 5
 Unreal! I saw her race in 91 with Paola Pezzo in Napa CA. So what, I know, but there was free Chandon champagne if I recall correctly and iIstill have the giant UCI event banner I boosted.
  • + 8
 Congrats on the amazing career. The 2018 win in Andorra was so epic!
  • + 6
 Congrats Gunn-Rita, what an amazing career! Will miss watching you race. Enjoy the next chapter in life!
  • + 6
 45 and STILL racing a hardtail, damn.....
  • + 5
 I was honestly hoping to see her continue to compete into her 50's. She's proof age is just a number.
  • + 5
 Impressive career! Inspiring for all ages!!
  • + 4
 An icon for mountain bikers.
  • + 3
 There will be a comeback. She will get bored and want to race at 50yrs old and kick 20 something ass!
  • + 1
 I believe she did win a wc race last year as well at Valnord in Andora. Absolutely impressive career. She is certainly worthy of one of the most over used titles in the sport, LEGEND!
  • + 1
 A legend, so glad she was a winning rider all the way to her retirement. Reminding people to continue your dream as long as you like. She is a warrior!
  • + 3
 Hall of Fame career.... one of the best ever.
  • + 4
 Amazing woman!
  • + 3
 Amazing career. Absolute legend. Congratulations.
  • + 1
 Congrats and enjoy it. If you want to ride in a couple events for us to watch we'll be glued to it. Thanks for the inspiration. My wife will be sad to hear this.
  • + 2
 Thank you for the years of inspiration and congrats on turning to the next chapter.
  • + 3
 Legend!
  • + 2
 We love you Gunn-Rita. You are an amazing athlete and inspiration!
  • + 3
 A true Legend !!!
  • + 1
 love to see winning at Andorra!!!!
  • + 1
 Norways next gen have Gunn Rita and Ken,watch out.
  • + 1
 Going to miss her crazy outfits.
  • + 1
 Kudos!
  • + 1
 Huge career.

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