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Gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross to retire after 2016 Olympics

Gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross will retire after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
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Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross has announced the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will mark the end of her final season, she wrote on Instagram.

“After over a decade of indescribable successes and challenges, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will mark the end of my 12th and final professional season,” she wrote. “After my third foot surgery last November, I worked tirelessly to recoup and recover. I put my blood, sweat and tears into the career of my dreams and experienced profound growth and immeasurable rewards along the way. I am so excited to celebrate with one last lap around the world and I hope you will follow along #SRRFinalLap! Let’s do this!”

Richards-Ross, 31, will look to make her fourth U.S. Olympic team at the 2016 Olympic track and field trials in July. In order to compete in Rio de Janeiro, she will need to finish within the top three in the 400 meter final set for July 3.

The former Texas Longhorn won gold in the 400 meters and 4x400-meter relay at the 2012 Olympics in London. She also finished sixth in the 200 meters. She mulled taking a break from the sport after the 2012 Olympics to start a family with her husband and NFL free agent Aaron Ross.​

Richards-Ross underwent foot surgery that hindered her 2013 and 2014 season. She failed to make the world championship team in 2013 due to the toe injury. Last season, she ran a 49.95 early in the season but then failed to reach the finals at the U.S. championships. She competed at the world championships as a member of the women's 4x400 meter relay that ended up with a silver medal behind Jamaica.

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France’s Marie-José Pérec is the only woman to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals at 400 meters as she accomplished the feat in 1992 and 1996. Richards-Ross' Olympic title defense will be no easy task as three women have already broken 50 seconds for the 400 in April. Compatriot Allyson Felix ran the fastest time in the world for 2015 with her 49.26 to win gold at the world championships and will try to take gold at the distance in Rio. Felix looks to pull off the 200 and 400 double, which was last accomplished by Michael Johnson in 1996.

Richards-Ross is the American record holder at 400 meters with her 48.70 from 2006. She ran a season's best of 49.95 for 2015. Texas' Courtney Okolo and professional Quanera Hayes have already run faster in 2016.

Richards-Ross will open her season at this weekend's Penn Relays, where she will be a part of the 4x400-meter relay team. She will also face Felix at the 2016 Prefontaine Classic, organizers announced on Monday.

Sanya Richards Ross' Olympic resume

2004 Athens

400 meters: 6th in the final

4x400-meter relay: Gold

2008 Beijing

400 meters: Bronze

4x400-meter relay: Gold

2012 London

200 meters: 5th in the final

400 meters: Gold

4x400-meter relay Gold

- Chris Chavez