Double Olympic champion Enrico Fabris, who became Italy's unlikely hero at the 2006 Turin Winter Games, has retired after a bad start to the speedskating season.
With Americans Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick poised to rake in the medal at the 2006 games, it was Fabris who rode the enthusiasm of the home crowd to win gold in the 1,500 metres and team pursuit and bronze in the 5,000 to upstage everyone at the Lingotto oval.
However, he never came close to matching those results again and his coach Gianni Romme said Monday the 30-year old Fabris had been struggling with motivation. Fabris had been deeply disappointed when he finished 24th and last in the 1,500 of the opening World Cup race in Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Friday.
"His motivation was shot. It didn't happen in one day. It was a long process," Romme told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
'As an athlete, you cannot do any better than to peak at the Olympics. He got as much out of his career as possible.'— Enrico Fabris's coach, Gianni Romme
At his best, Fabris was one of the finest technicians around. Tucked low and steadfast, he would glide over the ice where others plowed, and had an uncanny knack to maintain the same pace throughout a race.
He brought all those skills together within two magical weeks in Turin.
"As an athlete, you cannot do any better than to peak at the Olympics. He got as much out of his career as possible," Romme said.
But in five years of trying, he could never reach the same kind of peak again.
Slowed by injuries, he sought another peak at the Vancouver Games last year but they turned into bitter disappointment when he finished without a medal.
While they only compete during the winter, skaters have to stay in shape all year and it became increasingly difficult to put in the hours of physical exercise, Romme said.
"He simply said 'I don't want this anymore. I want to be able to lead my own life,"' Romme said.
He joined the national police force in 2003, and Romme expected him to start work there.