Arthritis forces 3-time world champ to retire

Jack Bobridge of Australia competing in the elite men's time trial competition at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Copenhagen in 2011 - a year after the 27-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Jack Bobridge of Australia competing in the elite men's time trial competition at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Copenhagen in 2011 - a year after the 27-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SYDNEY • Australian three-time world track champion Jack Bobridge quit the sport yesterday aged just 27 with rheumatoid arthritis taking a heavy toll.

The reigning Australian national road champion, who also won silver medals in the team pursuit on the track at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, was diagnosed with the chronic condition that primarily affects joints in 2010 and has been managing it with medication.

He left Europe and a professional contract with Trek-Segafredo in September citing family reasons and fatigue following the Rio Olympics in August.

"Since the (Rio) Games and backing off the training and racing load I've found my arthritis has been 100 per cent better and I've been able to get off all meds (medication) as well," he told the Adelaide Advertiser. "Obviously I love the bike, the racing and the lifestyle, but I've got a two-year-old (daughter) now and I could drag on for three or four years.

"But come 40 or 50 the damage it's going to do and the arthritis in my body... I don't see sport is worth it."

Bobridge, who broke the world record for the 4,000m individual pursuit in 2011 and won four Commonwealth Games golds on the track, said riding major Tours on the road in Europe this year had confirmed his decision to retire.

"I only went back to Europe this year to finalise things in my own head," he added.

"I found it wasn't enjoyable with the arthritis and the pain.

"I thought, am I doing the right thing? And I suppose after a few months of not racing if you haven't got that hunger I guess you know it's the right decision."

He won two track world titles in the team pursuit (2010, 2011) and one in the individual pursuit (2011).

His greatest success on the road was winning a stage of the Eneco Tour in 2010 and the Tour Down Under last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Arthritis forces 3-time world champ to retire'. Print Edition | Subscribe