Published: Friday September 7, 2012 MYT 7:29:00 AM
Updated: Friday September 7, 2012 MYT 3:47:13 PM
Sprint queen El Hannouni bows out with gold
LONDON: France's Assia El Hannouni on Thursday announced her retirement after a successful London Paralympics in which she won the T12 100m and 200m for a third successive Games.
The 31-year-old athlete, running with guide Gautier Simounet, took the longer sprint on Thursday, lowering her previous world best of 24.80sec to 24.46sec at the Olympic Stadium in front of French President Francois Hollande.
"I was told this morning at the village that he (Hollande) would be there and I thought, 'Oh no, I have to do well'," El Hannoni joked after the race.
She added that she was pleased to have won, particularly for Simounet.
"Finally my guide has a gold medal. We have a world record and a gold medal. We came last off the turn. You thought I wasn't going to make it but I knew I would," she said.
"I can confirm I'm retiring. I am 31 now. I want to leave my place and support other athletes. I want to help develop Paralympic sports especially as there are only seven women in the French athletics team."
El Hannouni, who has the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, won the T12 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m in Athens in 2004, successfully defended the half-lap and single lap sprints in Beijing and also won 800m and 1,500m silver.
She is the reigning world champion at 200m and 400m.
In 2008 she accused then-president Nicolas Sarkozy of ignoring the Paralympics, telling French television that para-athletes do not have the "same rights" as their non-disabled counterparts nor the same government support and recognition. - AFP