Emma Jackson announces retirement

26 Apr 2024

Olympian, Commonwealth Games medalist, and Under 23 World Champion, Emma Jackson has brought her remarkable career to a close, announcing her retirement from triathlon.

From humble beginnings in Brisbane to her rise as a force in sport, Jackson leaves an unforgettable imprint on the history of Australian triathlon with an international career spanning 18 years.

The 32-year-old said the decision to retire ultimately came from her body telling her she’d had enough.

“It’s no secret I’ve struggled with a varying range of injuries over the years and I’ve had to adapt my training to try and minimise these injury risks. Unfortunately I still became injured again recently, which meant I was unable to race events leading into the final Olympic selection period and for me my final goal was Paris Olympics,” Jackson said.

“I would love to still be competing and vying for a position on the team however I know my body can’t do that right now, or do it to the standard I would be happy with, so I know this is the right time to retire and move on to the next stage of my life.”

Reflecting on her career, Jackson shared her aspiration to leave a legacy of resilience and inspiration for fellow and younger athletes.

“Most athletes will experience a setback in sport, some more than others, but it’s important to know you are never alone nor will it last forever,” Jackson said.

“Results and achievements are the icing on the cake, and ultimately why people do high performance sport, however I didn’t achieve everything I always dreamt I would but I still look back on my career positively.

“What I remember the most is not the good races or bad ones but everything in between and the experiences and memories I had along the way with the people I met through sport.

“Not everyone can experience this type of life and it’s important to appreciate it and the memories created along the way.”

Jackson’s journey began in 2007, when she was selected to represent Australia at the World Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany – where she finished 24th.

The following two years also saw her selected for the Australian Junior team, competing in 2008 in Vancouver, Canada, where she placed fifth, and on the Gold Coast, Australia in 2009, where she secured second place.

Her silver medal, alongside a historic victory at the Noosa Triathlon, making her the youngest person to claim the crown at just 18-years-old, earned her the title of Australian Junior Triathlete of the Year.

In 2010, despite being eligible for another year in the junior ranks, Jackson chose to step up from the sprint distance to the Olympic distance and compete in the Under 23 category. A decision that would paid dividends as she soared to victory at the Under 23 World Championship in Budapest, solidifying her status as a rising star of the sport.

At just 20-years-old, Jackson made her Olympic debut competing as one of three Australian women in the triathlon at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where she finished eighth despite being the second youngest competitor in the field.

Jackson graced the stage of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where she claimed a commendable fifth-place finish in the individual race. It was in the inaugural Commonwealth Games Mixed Team Relay where Jackson secured a bronze medal, alongside Emma Moffatt, Aaron Royle, and Ryan Bailie.

She went on to play a pivotal role in securing Team Australia a pair of Mixed Relay World Championship silver medals in 2015 and 2016 in Hamburg.

Her achievements in the sport were further solidified with victories at the 2017 Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup and the 2017 Kinloch OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Championships, while in 2019, Jackson reached another pinnacle in her career as she clinched her first World Triathlon Series victory in Edmonton, ahead of Summer Rappaport (USA) and fellow Australian Ash Gentle.

Since then, she continued to don the green and gold on the World Triathlon Championship Series circuit, competing as recently as last year.

Looking back on her career, Jackson highlighted several races that stood out as results she was most proud of, including becoming the U23 World Champion and finishing 8th at the London Olympics. However, she regarded her victory at the Edmonton World Series race as perhaps her best moment.

“It was after years of struggle with injury and results that weren’t at the same level I was achieving earlier on in my career so it was a race where no one expected me to win,” Jackson said.

“I appreciated this win more than any other due to all the setbacks I went through to get there and I proved to myself I could still compete with the best.”

In contemplating her post-retirement plans, Jackson revealed her current state of enjoying flexibility while remaining connected to the world of high performance sport.

“At the moment I don’t have a clear plan on what the next chapter of my life will look like,” Jackson said.

“I am still with my training group on an altitude camp as my husband (Drew Box) is part of the coaching team, albeit I am doing a lot less training and choosing if I want to join for a session or not! So at the moment I am enjoying not having any commitments or an exact goal in mind.

“However I am motivated to find my next pathway and I hope I can continue in high performance sport in some capacity, not as an athlete but more behind the scenes as it’s what I’ve always seen myself doing once retiring as an athlete.”

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