Note: This is the original press release including original pronouns.

BERLIN (AFP) November 21, 2007

Former European pole-vault medalist Yvonne Buschbaum has announced her retirement from athletics to undergo hormone therapy and has hinted she will have a sex-change operation.

The 27-year-old, who won a bronze at the 2002 European Championships, says a persistent Achilles tendon injury is part of the reason for her retirement, but she will soon start hormone treatment, which rules her out of competitive sport.

“My continuous injury misery has played a part in the decision, but my decision is essentially due to my mental imbalance,” Buschbaum said on her website.

“For many years, I have had the feeling I am in the wrong body.

“Those who know me have seen a clear fault.

“I feel like a man and yet must live my life in the body of a woman.

“The years of discrepancy has left its tensions and has expressed itself in my injured Achilles’ tendons.

“I would not like to be misjudged any longer.

“I am conscious of the fact that transsexuality is a difficult topic, but I don’t want to be involved in a game of hide-and-seek with the truth.

“I appeal to the public’s understanding, to respect my decision and not draw any wrong conclusions.”

The German’s personal best of 4.70 metres was achieved in 2003, a year after picking up a bronze at the European Championships in Munich and a silver at the indoor tournament in Vienna.

She is ranked the second best German pole vaulters behind retired 2002 World Cup gold medalist Annika Becker.

Buschbaum also won a bronze at the 1998 European Championships in Budapest and was sixth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

She has won three German titles before picking up the Achilles tendon injury before the 2004 Athens Olympics and struggled to recapture her pre-injury form.

As she is set to undergo hormone treatment, she said she wants to come clean to avoid any doping allegations.

“I do not dope and with my forthcoming hormone treatment, my decision means that I have to be honest about what I am doing,” she said.

“The world of sport is too small for it to be a secret.

“And I wanted to be public about this so nobody is deceived or betrayed.

“From a biological point of view, the success I achieved so far has all been done naturally.

“I am just daring to show what is the real me.

“But I am glad I have started this journey and that one day I can be my true self.”

Buschbaum’s website