Originally created 03/16/04

Exhausted Szabo will not defend Olympic title



BUCHAREST, Romania -- Olympic 5,000-meter champion Gabriela Szabo will not defend her title at the Athens Games because of exhaustion.

The star Romanian, who failed to finish an indoor 5,000 in Birmingham, England last month, said Monday she will take at least six months off from training and competition.

"To be honest with you, at this moment, I feel nothing," Szabo said at a news conference with sports doctors at the Romanian Athletics Federation. "I see the stadium and I don't feel like running."

In September, Szabo took a 2 1/2 -month break after the world championships in France, where she finished 11th. Medical checks showed she was physically exhausted.

Dr. Ioan Dragan, chairman of the National Anti-Doping Commission, supervised Szabo's latest workup last month. He said results did not indicate the end of her career.

Szabo said she will return to track once she feels she can train again.

"Many will say that I lack motivation, but it isn't true," she said. "There is enough motivation, but my body is so tired."

In 1998, Szabo was rated the top woman at 1,500 meters, the mile, 3,000 and 5,000 meters.

She won the 3,000 gold medal at the 1997 worlds and the 5,000 at the 1999 and 2001 worlds. She also won a 1,500 silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics and a bronze in the 1,500 at the Sydney Olympics.