Five-time British cross country national champion Jenny Copnall announced her retirement from professional racing on Wednesday. After 17 years dedicated to cycling, Copnall counts 14 national championship medals in the cross country and marathon disciplines. She also has one marathon national championship title and five cross country national series titles.
"This is a decision that has been in my mind for a couple of years now, but I have always delayed making a firm decision and, every December, have found myself clicking back into gear for another year," said the 34-year-old Copnall. "The same began to happen this year and, before I knew it, I was knocking out 20-hour weeks all over again despite knowing deep down that it was time for a change of direction."
Copnall is the only senior British racer - male or female - to have won the national cross country series, the national cross country championships and the national marathon championships in a single year (2006).
She has raced for Motorex-Bianchi (2002-2003) and Subaru-Gary Fisher (2004-2008) and competed on the international circuit where she finished 30th in the 2002 World Cup overall and 18th in the 2007 marathon World Championships.
In 2009, her final season, Copnall returned to a purely domestic schedule, representing the Look Racing Team. Despite two untimely punctures, she finished with a silver medal at the British cross country Championships and the marathon championship. Copnall said she enjoyed her final season as much as any other, but acknowledged that it is time for her to step down due to a number of personal and professional factors.
"While I feel I could train like this forever, and still love getting out for hours whatever the weather, I also know that, in order to make the transition from athlete to normal life, I cannot continue to do this. From here on, I will be limiting my riding to a few hours per week, and the odd local fair weather race, and will be directing my time and energy instead to developing my coaching of riders and to a number of other projects related to cycling."
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone (so many people but you know who you are) who helped and supported me over the years. Undoubtedly the end of any athletic career has its difficulties, especially when it is the athlete that has to call time on it, but it is also a very exciting time, and I cannot wait to see what is possible when I transfer all my energy and dedication to other endeavours."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.