Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones will miss August’s World Championships in Paris after announcing that she is pregnant.
The 27-year-old American said she and her partner Tim Montgomery, the 100 metres world record holder, were expecting a baby in July.
“We’re just very thrilled to begin this new stage of our relationship and our lives,” Jones, who won 100m, 200m and 4x400m relay golds at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, told the Los Angeles Times.
“I’ve always wanted to have a family and I’ve been blessed to have the wonderful family I already have. I’m so thrilled to say this now, so I can have a really normal, normal pregnancy.”
Last August Jones said she would target at least three gold medals, including the long jump, at the Paris championships where she was hoping to avenge her shock defeat by Ukrainian Zhanna Pintusevich-Block in the 100 metres at the 2001 Worlds.
She was undefeated in 21 races over 100, 200 and 400 metres in 2002, beating Pintusevich-Block twice in the short distance.
Jones says she intends to resume training later this year to prepare for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I plan to enjoy this experience,” she said. "I don’t plan to be on the treadmill and in the gym at 40 weeks.
"I’m a pregnant competitor. Being pregnant doesn’t take away from how competitive I am. I look forward to watching Tim compete and seeing how the ladies run at the World Championships and I look forward to getting back in training for Athens.
“The timing is great in terms of when the baby will be born. I’m confident I’ll have plenty of time to be ready in 2004.”
Montgomery, who began dating Jones last year before setting a world best in the 100 metres of 9.78 in September, has a daughter from a previous relationship.
“I couldn’t think of a more beautiful thing to share with such a wonderful person,” he said in a report on the newspaper’s website.
Jones is not the first high-profile track athlete to interrupt her career to start a family. Fellow American Evelyn Ashford, a double-gold medallist at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, had a daughter in 1985 and went on to win 100m silver and 4x100m gold at Seoul in 1988. She also won a relay gold in Barcelona in 1992.
Valerie Brisco-Hooks also returned from motherhood in 1984 to become the first athlete to complete a 200 and 400m Olympic double.