AFTER being plagued by injury for the past few seasons, 2002 Commonwealth Games decathlon gold medallist and former Jamaican record-holder Claston Bernard has decided it is time to hang up his spikes.
"It is with great pain that I announce my retirement from international competition. This came after my last attempt to qualify for the London Olympics was cut short by an injury to my Achilles during the competition," Bernard stated in a letter addressed to the people of "Jamaica".
The injury was suffered at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Championships late last month.
"There comes a time in one's life where the transition to other things has to be made. I have run the race and have fought the good fight," he added.
The tall, well-structured Bernard who turned 33 in March won a gold medal in the shot put at the Carifta Under-17 Championships in 1995.
He won silver and bronze medals in the event at the 1997 and 1998 CARIFTA Championships.
Bernard won his first major decathlon medal, a gold, at the 1998 CAC Junior Games and in the same year finished 13th at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Annecy, France.
Four years later, at the age of 23, he created history by becoming the first Jamaican to win a gold medal in the 10-discipline event at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England with 7,830 points.
Bernard qualified for his first Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and was impressive in finishing ninth with a national record 8,225 points.
"My life as a Jamaican trailblazer in the decathlon has been filled with great triumphs, but also heartaches," Bernard stated.
"I have given it my all the past few years trying to get back as a top decathlete, but I seem to suffer injuries at the most inopportune times."
In subsequent years, Bernard's success was overshadowed by that of another decathlete, Maurice Smith, who went on to claim a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Bernard, who won a silver medal at last year's CAC Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, two years after earning a bronze in Cuba, thanked the local governing bodies, the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) as well as the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), for their support throughout his career.
"Thank you... for your wonderful support over the years and for sticking with me to the end. Thanks to those that have always supported me, and even to my critics, because you have all made me strive to do my best.
"However, the time has to come to use my other gifts and talents in pursuing other dreams," he stated.