23 Feb 2017

Kim Smith calls time on athletics career

11:48 am on 23 February 2017

A persistent foot injury has forced multiple New Zealand distance running record holder Kim Smith to retire from the sport

The 35-year-old Aucklander, made the decision after several seasons of below-par performances.

"Since undergoing foot surgery (after rupturing a tendon in the foot) in 2014 my feet have never been the same," she said.

Kim Smith

Kim Smith Photo: Supplied/Athletics NZ

"I just can't do what I want to (in terms of training), which will allow me to race at the level I want to. My body just can't handle it. Mentally it was very hard to race poorly. It was just not enjoyable anymore.

"Last year I was in a lot of pain running, so in some ways (to retire) is a relief. I'm also four months pregnant and having another child was important to me. So, this has made it an easier decision."

During her three years at the Rhode Island-based university from 2002 to 2005 she went from a raw college hopeful into a burgeoning international performer.

In 2005 she won the World University Games 5000m gold medal and made her IAAF World Championship debut in Helsinki, finishing 15th in the 10,000m.

At the next edition of the World Championships in Osaka two years later she produced one of the best performances of her career to finish fifth.

Smith competed at three Olympics, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

He eighth placing in the 10, 000m in Beijing being the best of those.

While pleased with her performances, Smith knows she was robbed of higher placings throughout her career due to drug cheats.

"It is hard to look at the results and see that people ahead of me have been caught for drugs and that some of the best years of my career were during pretty dirty years for the sport," she says.

"A Russian finished ahead of me at the Beijing Olympics and it is sad to look back on those years and say that. I just tried to finish as high up as I could, but I definitely wonder how much higher up the field I could have finished without the cheating."

After a failed attempt to finish the 2008 New York Marathon due to illness she unleashed a stunning performance at her first completed effort over the 42.2km distance, when setting a New Zealand record of 2:25:21 to place sixth at the 2010 London Marathon.

Her Olympic career finished in London in 2012 when she finished a disappointing 14th.

She currently owns 11 indoor and outdoor New Zealand records including every outdoor mark from 3000m to the marathon - and she is particularly proud her 5000m indoor mark of 14:39.89 set in New York in 2009 - which is a little over six seconds quicker than her outdoor national record for the distance.

Qualifying for her first Olympics in Athens was another highlight - "because I never thought it was possible."

"I can't imagine what I would be doing now if I hadn't made the choice to be a runner," says Kim, who at four months pregnant is still running 40 minutes a day.

"Running has allowed me to travel the world and to be able to do so many things."

"In future I hope to get into coaching. I love the sport so much and I can't imagine a life without it."