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Three-time gold medalist says medical reasons force retirement

12/12/2007

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.