The best and most enduring way to retire from competition is for a competitor to remove their shoes and leave them where they finished their career. The latest athlete to do this is Oscar Figueroa of Colombia, who won the gold medal in men’s 62 kilogram weightlifting and then immediately retired.
Removing your shoes is a powerful metaphor. A symbol, part of you will always remain with the sport long after active competition. The most famous example of this retirement was wrestler Rulon Gardner at the 2004 Athens Olympics where he won bronze. The US Olympian couldn’t hold back his tears after walking away from the sport he loved and competed in for 11 years.