9th October 2023
OLYMPIC MEDALLIST EMILY DIAMOND RETIRES
Olympic bronze medallist Emily Leonard (née Diamond) has today (9 October) announced her retirement from the sport.
During a highly successful athletics career, Emily reached the podium for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as part of the women’s 4x400m relay squad, racing in both the heats and the final. Lining up alongside Eilidh Doyle, Anyika Onuora and Christine Ohuruogu, the quartet secured Olympic podium success.
During her career, Emily has been part of British teams at Worlds and European Championships, as well as England teams at the Commonwealth Games.
On the world stage, she anchored the British team to the silver medal in the women’s 4x400m relay at a home World Athletics Championships in London, while at European level she won relay gold at the 2016 edition of the Championships, as well as two bronze medals in 2014 and 2018. At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Emily ran for the England relay team which won the bronze medal.
Earlier in her junior years, Emily competed for GB & NI at age group Championships over 200m, reaching finals at the 2009 Europeans, and 2010 Worlds. In 2011 she was also part of the bronze medal winning 4x100m relay quartet at the Championships in Ostrava, before changing her focus to the 400m during the 2012 season.
Upon her retirement, the three-time Olympian said, “Unfortunately, the time has come for me to announce my retirement from Athletics. After having my little boy in November 2022, I had every intention to come back and fight for my place on the Olympic Team for Paris.
“However, as the months have passed, I have realised my priorities have changed, and as such, I wouldn’t be able or willing to put in the hours and dedication to training that I know is required to compete at the top level.
“I have been incredibly lucky to have had a long international career spanning 14 years and I am even more grateful that during those 14 years I was able to qualify for three Olympic Games for Team GB, with my personal highlight winning a bronze medal with the 4x400m relay team at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“Sport always played a massive part in my life growing up, and Athletics in particular ran in the family (excuse the pun!). My grandparents met at English Schools, with my nan going on to compete for Great Britain in the Long Jump at the European Games in 1950. My mum then followed in her footsteps and became a successful long jumper in her youth too. I am so pleased that my grandparents were able to enjoy my career for many years before they passed away and were even able to witness me standing on an Olympic podium. I know they will be looking down now as I am retiring with great pride and happiness.
“Athletics may be primarily an individual sport, but it is far from that in reality. There is a whole army of people that helped me during my career where without their help and support I would never have made it to the level I did. My parents made many sacrifices including driving me around the country for training and competitions, only to sit in Bedford stadium in the freezing cold and enjoy watching me run for a solid 23 seconds!
“My family, coaches, physios, psychologists, nutritionists, British Athletics, my teammates, training partners and roommates, I will miss you all as there is truly no better time than being in the shape of your life at a prep camp for a major Championships surrounded by all your best mates. That is one of the things I will miss the most.
“Finally, to thank my husband James, who has been with me from my very first competition as a 16-year-old, to my last. The first person I’d call when I ran a PB or was dropped from funding. He has truly seen first-hand the highs and lows this sport can bring, but he always made sure my Athletics was a priority in our life together.
“I hope to stay involved in the sport for many years to come and have recently taken up a position coaching Athletics at Millfield School in Somerset. There are a large number of very talented students there, so I am very much looking forward to working with them over the next 12 months and beyond.
“To any young (or old!) athlete reading this aspiring to one day compete for your country, my main advice would be to back yourself 100%, listen to your body, and never, ever, ever give up! I never thought I could make it to one Olympic Games, let alone three and as I look back, I wonder if I could have squeezed a little more out of myself had I had more belief in my own abilities.
“So, as I bid an emotional farewell to the track as an athlete, I am looking forward to enjoying some quality time with my new little family and embarking on the next stage of my career.”