Speed skater Saskia Alusalu is retiring from the sport, she announced Tuesday.
"I have had the honor and the responsibility, but above all, the great pleasure and opportunity, to represent the Estonian state in sports, which I love to do and which I have so far devoted myself to to the maximum," Alusalu said, via a press release.
"I would like to leave this top sport with a smile and with joy, as despite the great efforts needed, it has also been a pleasure for me to compete. While the effort has been sour, the victories are sweet. All in all, as any life should be," she went on.
"I would like to thank all my supporters, coaches and those people dear to me, without whom I would not be here today. I would also like to thank all the people of Estonia, who care about our own country, whose thirtieth anniversary we marked just a few days ago," she added.
Alusalu, 27, started skating at the age of two, following her older sisters' example and trained by her father. She set her first Estonian record aged 14, three years later moving to Inzell, Germany, to live and to train.
She is a 38-time Estonian champion in speed skating, and holds 89 domestic records.
But it was at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she really shot to prominence, finishing in fourth place in the women's mass start speedskating event, after leading the early stages of the race a nail-biting final, made all the more so by the fact it came on Estonian independence day, February 24.
She was voted Estonian sportsperson of the year that same year, and had also flown the Estonian flag at the Pyeongchang games' opening ceremony, the first women's speed skater to have done so.
Alusalu says that she hopes to stay involved in sports in other ways, adding that over the past year-and-a-half she has been weighing up her decision, looking back on her achievements and making plans for the future.
Editor: Andrew Whyte