She had planned to hang up her spikes at the end of the season. Because, according to the Jamaican-born superstar, “when I envisioned my final season, I saw the flag draped over my shoulders one last time. It was the fairytale ending I had hoped for.”

However, Sanya Richards-Ross, the American Olympic Games champion, had to fast track her retirement plans. “Yesterday (July 1) as I hung my head in disappointment after not completing my final 400, a fan yelled out… “We love you SRR” it brought me back to the moment. It made me acutely aware that my fairytale ending was happening, it was happening right in front of me!!!,” she wrote on Instagram.

“As I jogged down the homestretch at my favorite track, all the fans stood to their feet and applauded me. I received a standing ovation in Hayward Field. Surely it wasn’t for my performance on that day but for my performance over the years. I wish I could thank every fan individually for allowing me to have that moment. Reminding me that a career or a person aren’t defined by one race…. I left my heart on the track yesterday and every day. Love you all so much. /react-text #SRRFinalLap

According to Wikipedia, Richards-Ross’ first individual Olympic glory came in London 2012, when she took gold in the 400 metres after finishing third at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The former IAAF world athlete of the year also won Olympic gold in the 4×400 meters relay at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the 2012 Summer Olympics. She was the best 400m runner in the world for a decade, ranking No. 1 in the world from 2005-2009 and again in 2012.

In addition to her Olympic accolades, she is also a seven-time medalist at the World Championships in Athletics (five of which are gold). In 2009, she was the World Champion in the 400 metres.

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