By Paula Kim on 06/02/11 at 9:00 am
She was one of the most dominant women in ITU history but Portuguese star Vanessa Fernandes has announced she is taking a break from triathlon due to health reasons.
Triathlon fans know that few other European athletes have been as successful as her, which was reason to believe the 2007 World Champion would come back despite months of absence.
However, the 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist announced her break from competitive triathlon to the Portuguese Triathlon Federation President Luis Ferreira and the National Olympic Committee.
Fernandes took up the sport in 1999 and soon came to prominence during a time when Americans and Australians dominated the women’s competition. She won her first ITU Triathlon World Cup in 2003 in Madrid at age 17 and owns a record 20 World Cup titles, including six consecutive titles at her favorite race in Madrid. Fernandes dominated at the European Championships, claiming five straight titles. Known as a prolific biker and runner, she also won the ITU Duathlon World Championships in 2006 and 2007.
After winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games—one of just two medals for Portugal in Beijing—her glorious racing career was plagued by injury and was never able to return to the same form.
Having spent most of the 2009 on the sidelines, she made a world championship return in Madrid in June of last year. On a course she had dominated and never lost on, Fernandes finished 10th overall. What seemed like the start of a return to glory turned out to be final race, for now. Coincidentally, Madrid was the site of her first World Cup win and her last World Cup title in 2008.
The length of Fernandes’ hiatus is unknown but the 25-year old emphasised the break is temporary, suggesting a return in the future is possible.