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."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.”