After an outstanding 20-year career that included four Olympic appearances, highlighted by a bronze medal in 2004, walker Jane Saville has announced her retirement from Australian and international athletics.
Saville captained the Australian athletics team at Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championship level and was the Australian flag bearer at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
As the athletics community reflects on Saville’s career, Athletics Australia CEO Danny Corcoran paid tribute to the eleven-time national champion and three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
“Jane has been an outstanding ambassador for athletics and race walking in particular. An extremely tough and determined competitor, she represented her country with great pride,” Corcoran said.
“Hugely respected by her peers and fellow competitors, Jane was an inspiration to her team mates and juniors coming up through the ranks.
“On behalf of the Australian athletics community I would like to congratulate Jane on a stellar career and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”
Fellow walker and Australian teammate, 2007 world champion Nathan Deakes, reflected on the impact Saville has had on his career and acknowledged her outstanding achievements.
“I consider Jane one of my best friends. She has been a big influence on my career, especially early on after her success at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. She gave me confidence in what I was doing was right,” Deakes said.
“Jane has such an impressive record, and of course came so close to having two Olympic medals in the cabinet. Her response after her disqualification in Sydney just proved what a champion she is on and off the track.”
Saville will be remembered by most Australians for her heartbreaking disqualification at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Leading the field with less than 300 metres to go, the gold medal was within her grasp, however the judges decided that was not to be, and she was informed of her disqualification just prior to her entry into the stadium.
Bouncing back from the disappointment, Saville went on to win gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games (the second of three Commonwealth Games gold medals - 1998, 2002, 2006) before clinching a bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games - finishing that year ranked No. 1 in the world.
"I am very proud of what I have achieved in my sport, and whilst I will no longer be competing professionally, I will continue to build on my role as a health and wellness ambassador in the community,” said Saville.
“I want to give back to the sport that has given me so much and I feel like I can best do that by encouraging people of all ages to live an active lifestyle through the development of my community events, coaching clinics, my promotional work with my corporate partners and by serving as an ambassador for athletics.”
Saville will also continue her association with elite athletics as a member of the IAAF Race Walking Committee.
"There are so many people I would like to thank for the role they have played in my career, but I would especially like to thank my parents and sister, Natalie, my husband and coach, Matt, and my sponsors who have been so loyal over the years," the 34-year-old said.
"I have also received fantastic support from so many sectors of the community and media which has been both personally satisfying and positive for the sport of athletics."
Jane Saville’s 20-year career
Olympic bronze medal (20km Walk - Athens 2004)
Three Commonwealth Games gold medals (1998 - 10km walk, 2002 - 20km walk, 2006 - 20km walk)
Four Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004 & 2008)
Six World Championships (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007)
Four Commonwealth Games (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
11-time national champion
20 years competing internationally for Australia
AIS Scholarship 1997 – 2002
NSWIS Scholarship 2003 – 2008
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images