June 20, 2015

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Canadian speedskater Cindy Klassen retired Saturday after a career in which she won six Olympic medals.

The 35-year-old skater had double knee surgery in 2008 but raced until 2013. Klassen hasn't competed the last two years following a concussion while inline skating in 2013.

''It was nice to take a break and a step away from the hard training,'' she said during a news conference. ''I have to admit that when I watch speedskating, I get that itch to go out there and race. But other than that, I don't miss it as much as I would have when I was younger. This speaks volumes to me, and I know that it's time to move on to something new.''

Klassen is the only Canadian to win five medals at one Olympics - a gold, two silver and two bronze in 2006 in Turin, Italy. Jacques Rogge, then the IOC president, dubbed her the ''woman of the games.''

Another bronze from 2002 tied her with former teammate Clara Hughes for the most Olympic medals by a Canadian. Klassen still holds world records in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters, which she set during the 2005-06 season.

Klassen called the Olympics from 2006 and Vancouver Games in 2010 in her home country the highlights of her career.

''It has been a tremendous honor to race for our country,'' she said. ''I count it as a privilege to have had the chance to wear a uniform with Canada printed on the back.''

Canadian speedskater Susan Auch, an Olympian who retired in 2002, said Klassen's reputation for kindness is well deserved.

''Of all the questions I always get from people, `Is she really that nice?''' Auch said. ''And she is.''

Klassen now plans to finish her university degree and focus on the next stage of her life.

''It's been a year (since I raced) and my legs have just shrunk,'' she said with a laugh. ''I just feel ready to move on and put speedskating behind me.''

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