BUCHAREST, March 15 (AFP) - :frowning: Romania’s reigning 5,000metres Olympic champion Gabriela Szabo will not defend her title in Athens this year, she announced on Monday.

The 28-year-old triple world outdoors champion claimed she had lost interest in the sport and was tired so she would be taking six months rest - she tried to make a comeback at the indoor meeting in Birmingham, England,earlier this year but was unable to finish the 3000m
``I just don’t feel like running,’’ she admitted.

``I watched the world indoor championships earlierthis month and it was as if I had never competed in mylife in the sport.’’

According to Szabo doctors told her that because of``bad’’ results evolving from recent tests she shouldtake a six month ‘holiday’. In September last year itwas reported she had had a heart scare.

``I am sad that it should happen in an Olympic year,’'said Szabo Monday, refusing to rule out a return to thetrack.

``For the moment I don’t see myself retiring.

``I just want let my body regenerate itself. I amthinking even of having a baby,’’ added Szabo, who ismarried to her coach Zsolt Gyongyossy.

In September 2003 Gyongyossy revealed her heart scare.

The first thing we did was an electrocardiogrammewhich revealed a problem,'' he said. I don’t know yetif it’s serious.’’

Ioan Dragan, president of Romania’s anti-dopingcommission, said the first signs for concern overSzabo’s current state surfaced last September.

``That was when we ascertained something which thespecialists call ‘over-training syndrome’,’’ he said.

Nicolae Marasescu, secretary-general of the RomanianAthletics Federation, paid tribute to Szabo, who alsowon bronze in the 1500m at the 2000 Olympics.

``Gabriela has won the most important prizes ever inRomanian athletics history,’’ he said.

``However I understand her decision to have a rest.’’

In May of last year Szabo fell victim to Frenchcustoms officers who had to clear her of any offence.They had stopped a car belonging to her in which drugswere found although a later analysis proved herinnocence.
Szaba was not in the car when it was stopped byofficials near Monaco.

Szabo, who won world gold in the 5000m in 1997 and1999 and the 1500m title in 2001, is the seconddefending Olympic women’s titleholder to be ruled out ofthe Games. Japan’s marathon heroine Naoko Takahashi was surprisingly left out of her squad also on Monday.