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NZ Olympian Oliver retires from athletics

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/09/2016

Lucy Oliver of New Zealand during a press conference on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games © Sarah Crabill/Getty Images Lucy Oliver of New Zealand during a press conference on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games New Zealand runner Lucy Oliver is retiring at the age of 27 after competing at her second Olympic Games.

Oliver (nee Van Dalen) will focus her attention on completing a master's degree in social work in Auckland and starting a family.

She says retirement had been on her mind in the lead-up to August's Rio Olympics, where she finished a disappointing 13th in her heat of the 5000m.

"It was only after Rio when I sat down with my coach (Adrian Blincoe) we decided it was the right time," she said.

"I have had an amazing athletics career, a wild adventure, but I feel this is the right time to stop. I have a big desire to work with underprivileged children and families."

Born and raised in Wanganui, Oliver and her identical twin sister excelled at school level and both accepted a scholarships at Stony Brook University in New York.

In her final year in 2012, she ran a lifetime best of 4min 05.76sec in San Diego to book her ticket to the London Olympic Games, where she was a credible ninth in the semi-finals.

Dogged by achilles tendon problems, she said she first considered retirement after running in pain and below her best at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

After a break, she pursued a place at Rio and ran a personal best 15:20.13 in Portland in June.

She struggled in the heat of Brazil, a disappointment as she felt in the best shape of her career.

"It is sad to end something which has shaped by life for the past 12 years, but I have got so many amazing memories and I will look on my time in athletics as a fantastic experience."

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