Aussie discus champion Dani Stevens announces immediate retirement

Jasper BruceNCA NewsWire
Stevens retires as a legend of the sport. Luke Marsden
Camera IconStevens retires as a legend of the sport. Luke Marsden Credit: News Regional Media

Aussie discus champion Dani Stevens has announced her retirement.

Stevens (née Samuels) leaves the sport as a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, first claiming the honour at the 2014 Glasgow Games, and then again on the Gold Coast in 2018.

She also represented Australia at four consecutive Olympics, beginning in Beijing, where she was the youngest member of the Australian athletics team.

Her best result on the Olympic stage was at the Rio Games in 2016, where she finished in fourth place, just 44cm short of a bronze medal.

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Stevens, 33, also holds the distinction of being one of few athletes to win a world championship in their selected discipline at youth, junior at senior level.

In 2009, at age 21, she became the youngest ever discus world champion, having previously been named junior world champion in 2006 and youth world champion in 2005. Her senior world championship record still stands.

She claimed the silver medal at the 2017 London world championships with a personal best throw of 69.64m, which would have been enough to win Olympic Gold at every Games since 2000.

Stevens has battled injury since her most recent Commonwealth Games gold medal win and took to Instagram to reveal she would be calling it a day.

“Wow what an experience it has been! Never did I think going to Little Athletics throwing training with the local coach when I was 8 years old would lead to me to the life I have lived,” she said.

“It takes an immense amount of self discipline, motivation and perseverance to train and compete at a world class level. I always knew I couldn’t do it forever and have decided to retire from athletics.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to everyone in my corner. My team, my teammates, friends, family and everyone who has taken the time to clap, cheer or have a chat. Your support has allowed me to do what I have for a long time and has meant the world to me.”

Dani Stevens announces retirement from discus

Stevens thanked her long-time coach Denis Knowles, the father of noted NRL trainer Hayden, for his support and guidance throughout her career.

“I would not have achieved a smidge of what I did without my long time coach and friend, Denis Knowles,” she said.

“Denis took me from a little athlete, a young girl, and turned me into a World Champion. His impact on my life goes way beyond coach and athlete and I’m proud to call him my best friend.

“He has been there for me through thick and thin and I’m looking forward to the next phase of our coach athlete relationship where is going to teach me how to play chess.”

She also thanked her husband, former shot-putter Joe Stevens, whom she described as her “rock”.

“I met Joe when I was 16 on an Athletics team. We went to World Youth and World Juniors together and ever since then have been stuck at the hip,” she said.

“You have been my rock, always made me laugh and helped me see the joy in the every moment even when things weren’t going my way.”

Stevens retires as a legend of the sport. Luke Marsden
Camera IconStevens retires as a legend of the sport. Luke Marsden Credit: News Regional Media

Stevens’ fellow athletes have been quick to pay tribute to her online.

On social media, Aussie long jump star Brooke Stratton posted: “Congrats on an amazing career Dani! You are an absolute champion & have inspired so many. Enjoy what’s to come.”

Marathon runner Jessica Trengrove tweeted: “Thank for being such a genuine, inspiring, kind and inclusive role-model (Dani Stevens)! Wishing you all the very best for your next chapter”.

Athletics Australia chief executive officer Peter Bromley thanked Stevens for her contribution to athletics.

“Throughout her career, Dani was an integral member of the Australian Athletics Team, not only for incredible performances but for being a leader and role model within the wider community,” he said.

“She joined rare company when she became a four-time Olympian, and with such a list of accolades, she now enters the next stage of her life with a special place in Australian athletics history.

“While she will most definitely be missed, we know those champion qualities will undoubtedly serve her well in the future in whatever she chooses to do. On behalf of Athletics Australia, I’d like to say thank you to Dani and congratulations on your contribution to our sport.”

Originally published as Aussie discus champion Dani Stevens announces immediate retirement

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