Robbie Grabarz (coach: Fuzz Caan) has announced his retirement from athletics at the age of 30, bringing an end to an illustrious career in the sport which saw him win a number of global medals in the high jump, including an Olympic bronze medal in 2012.
One of his finest moments came during the memorable days of 2012 when the Birmingham-based athlete won an Olympic medal in front of an adoring home crowd. Sharing bronze with Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim on that day, it marked a glittering few years for the Briton who went on to add success after success to his CV.
Prior to his Olympic Games exploits, Grabarz had become European champion for the very first time in Helsinki in the same year – the first British male winner in 62 years – clearing 2.31m to win for his first senior international title.
The Newham & Essex Beagles athlete also equalled the British outdoor high jump record of 2.37m at the Lausanne Diamond League later in the season, tying with Steve Smith’s outdoor mark.
After these achievements, he received the honour of captaining the British team at British Athletics Glasgow International Match at the start of 2013.
However, it all began many years ago when he earned his first international call-up to the European Junior championships in 2005, followed by his first age-group final in 2006 at the World Junior championships in Beijing. His 12th place finish in the latter kick-started a career that would see him at the top of the sport for many years.
It was a leap of 2.34m at the Internationales Springermeeting in Wuppertal, Germany at the start of 2012 which introduced him into the higher echelons of the sport. It was a significant clearance which kickstarted a spell of consistency at world-class heights which reaped so many rewards throughout that year.
2016 was also a stellar year in the career of Grabarz, adding world indoor silver and European silver to his prestigious collection of medals, truly marking him as one of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s best ever athletes.
He narrowly missed the podium at the 2016 Olympic Games with a fourth-place finish, but once again, he was challenging the best in the world on the biggest stage of all.
European indoor silver was added to the collection in 2017, with a sixth-place finish coming at last summer’s IAAF World championships in the same venue as his 2012 triumph. With his daughter watching in the crowd, it was a proud moment for Grabarz.
Grabarz said upon his retirement: “I’m glad I got myself back into shape this winter – I needed to do that so I knew if it didn’t work it wasn’t through injury. I’d got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying competing and didn’t want it anymore.”
“I’ve seen people carry on too long past the point of enjoyment and there is no need, life is too short and I want to feel positive about my time competing. I’ve had a great time in the sport – 20 years’ worth – and have genuinely loved jumping.”
“I’m so grateful for everyone who I have worked with, had support off and known within the sport. There are too many to name but so many people helped keep me going. There was a point in 2011 when I thought I was done then, so to get almost another seven years in the sport was pretty special.”
On the magnificent support he has received from the fans over the years, he adds:“So, from the person who maybe clapped my run up once, to those I worked with closely every day, thank you for being there.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with the family and also watching athletics – I’ve not been a big watcher before now but I want to keep up with how my friends are doing.”
British Athletics Performance Director Neil Black commented: “Robbie has been at the top of the sport for a number of years and it is with sadness that we see him retire but I want to congratulate him on a fantastic career spanning a number of years. He has a big character and a big heart, and has been a key addition to British teams for more than a decade.
“Robbie is a big stage performer and has delivered at a number of major championships. He has been a key part of successes for British athletics over a number of years and that must be celebrated.
“From his early days, coming through the junior stages, to acting as a mentor for younger athletes as an experienced senior, we have witnessed the growth of Robbie as an athlete and a person. We wish him and his family all the best for the future.”