Alex Averbukh announced on Sunday that he will forgo next month's World Championships in Athletics and will officially retire after jumping at the pole vault competition in the Maccabiah Games on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old had initially planned to retire following the World Championships in Berlin, but decided instead to make his final jump as a professional at the Hadar Yosef Stadium in Tel Aviv in front of the local fans.
"I've decided to retire here in Israel at the Maccabiah," Averbukh said during an emotional press conference, which was stopped a couple of times after the two-time European Champion struggled to control the tears running down his face.
"I felt empty inside in my last competition, and you can't jump at the World Championships if you feel empty."
One of the greatest athletes in Israeli sports history, Averbukh recorded unprecedented achievements since making aliya in 1999.
Besides winning the European Championships in 2002 and 2006, he also won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 1999, a silver medal at the same event two years later, and reached the Olympic Games final in 2000 and 2004.