Lauren Hewitt, one of Australia’s most recognised and decorated female sprinters, has announced her retirement from athletics.
Hewitt’s international career spanned 13 years, in an era that contained some of Australia’s most successful athletes including the likes of Cathy Freeman and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor.
Bursting onto the international scene in 1996 at the age of 17, the ‘skinny kid from Warracknabeal’ was the youngest member of the Atlanta Olympic Games team (4 x 100m relay) and later that year went on to win a silver medal in the 200m at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
Throughout her career, Hewitt represented Australia at three Olympics, her results including a 200m semi final appearance in Sydney.
After making her World Championships debut in 1997, Hewitt competed in four more editions of the world titles, her seventh place in the 200m final in Seville 1999, one of her greatest achievements.
An integral member of numerous Australian relay teams, she tasted success at the Kuala Lumper Commonwealth Games in the 4 x100m and again in Manchester, teaming with Freeman, Tamsyn Lewis and Jana Rawlinson to take home the gold medal in the 4 x 400m.
The loyal Ringwood Athletics Club athlete was guided by a number of coaches throughout her successful career including Mark Ladbrook, Peter Fortune, Debbie Flintoff-King and more recently John Quinn.
Hanging up the spikes, the 29-year-old now has time to sit back and reflect on her achievements and experiences over the past 13 years.
“People hesitate to say congratulations, and ask if it is congratulations. Of course it is, I am quite happy with my decision,” Hewitt said.
“Athletics has been my passion since I was a young girl and now that I have made the decision to retire, I can reflect and appreciate how far I’ve come.
“I have to admit reading over my achievements makes me feel pretty proud of what I have done.
“My Olympic journey will be with me forever and now I’m looking forward to having the time and energy to focus on new endeavours.”
Those new endeavours include a return to university, where Hewitt will commence her master’s degree in nutrition medicine.
Fellow Australian team member Tamsyn Lewis paid tribute to her long-time friend.
“My most memorable moments come from racing each other from the age of 10. I just remember this tall skinny girl from the country and man she was quick,” the world indoor champion reminisced.
“Years later we found ourselves rooming with each other on Australian teams. She was one constant person I had throughout my career,”
“She was a great competitor and should be remembered for not only being one of our country’s best female sprinters, but her ability to do it over a long period of time.”
Athletics Australia National Performance Manager, Max Binnington acknowledged Hewitt’s Australian caps and dedication to Ringwood Athletics Club.
“The list of representative achievements on her CV is certainly something she should be proud of and will always remember fondly in her reflective moments.”
“Lauren supported Ringwood Athletics Club at a time when she was competing on a much bigger stage. In the process of doing this, I am sure she has inspired many young girls to continue in the sport of athletics.”
Lauren Hewitt has been an invaluable contributor to Australian athletics, and has earned her place in the colourful history of the sport. The athletics community wish Lauren all the best for her future endeavours.
100m: 11.28 (-0.5) - Seville, ESP 1999
200m: 22.52 (+1.5) - Canberra, AUS 2000
400m: 53.88 - Perth, AUS 2003
Five-time World Championships representative
Two-time Commonwealth Games champion (4 x 100m and 4 x 400m)
Three-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist (200m and 4 x 100m)
IAAF World Junior Championships 200m silver medallist
Eight-time national champion (100m and 200m)
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