Three-time gold medalist says medical reasons force retirement

Updated: December 12, 2007, 1:51 PM ET
Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania -- Three-time Olympic gold medalist Catalina Ponor is retiring from gymnastics again.

Ponor, who ended a brief retirement earlier this year, said Wednesday she told the Romanian federation of her decision. Ponor won three golds at the 2004 Athens Olympics, leading Romania to the team title and capturing the floor and balance beam titles.

The 20-year-old Ponor, who has a history of knee problems, cited unspecified medical issues for her retirement. Her announcement comes less than eight months before the Beijing Olympics.

"There are medical reasons and I don't want to take any chances," she said, according to Realitatea TV. "I am now focusing on my university studies and I want to spend the holidays with my family."

She retired after winning the beam at the 2006 European championships, in part because of her knee problems. She returned to competition this spring and helped Romania to a bronze medal at the world championships in September.

She finished fourth in the balance beam finals, marking the first time since 2002 she competed at a world championships or Olympics and failed to win a beam medal.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press