German Olympian Elena Richter announces surprise retirement

26 August 2020
Wiesbaden, Germany
The 31-year-old was an integral part of the current international team with Lisa Unruh and Michelle Kroppen.

German national team members Elena Richter and Camilo Mayr, who both represented their country at the London 2012 Olympic Games, have announced their retirement from international archery.

Mayr, 29, previously stepped away in 2013 but was attempting a comeback for Tokyo.

Richter, however, was a key member of the squad that qualified Germany three quota places for the upcoming Olympics at last year’s world championships.

“I’ve been struggling with this decision for several weeks," Richter told DSB.de. "This season would have meant another career highlight for me with the Olympic Games and, at the same time, my farewell.”

However, she said, “It has recently been really difficult for me to prepare for a competition next year, which I am unsure will even take place.”

Richter won the last World Archery Indoor Championships in 2018. She is the only German woman to win individual gold at a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup (in Shanghai in 2014).

The 31-year-old was one-third of a formidable German recurve women’s team, alongside defending Olympic silver medallist Lisa Unruh and world-number-five Michelle Kroppen. The trio qualified Germany’s first team spot to the Olympic Games since 2004.

“We hoped for this for a long time. Lisa and I were in our third try to get the spot for the team,” Richter said in June 2019 at the worlds after the German women defeated Mexico to earn the berth for Tokyo 2020.

Her retirement leaves Germany in a tough position.

Internationally, the nation has rotated its fourth archer on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit in recent seasons. But nobody stands out as a ready-made replacement for Richter.

German coach Oliver Haidn’s work has unexpectedly become more difficult.

“[Elena] was an integral part of the core team and took part in all important competitions," he said. "It’s a loss as she showed by leading the team to Olympic qualification."

Richter is the first high-profile retirement following the delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Korea’s Oh Jin Hyek, who also planned to end his career after this season, announced earlier this year that he would continue to compete until after the Games in Japan.