On Thursday afternoon, two-time Olympian and three-time NCAA champion Andrew Wheating announced his retirement from professional track and field with a Facebook post.
The post opens with “Dear Professional Running” which is much like how Nike took out a full page ad in newspapers to publish Michael Jordan’s retirement letter titled “Dear Basketball” or how Kobe Bryant announced his retirement with a letter by the same title on the Players Tribune. We wouldn’t go as far as saying Wheating was the MJ or Kobe of professional running but he was a special talent.
“First off, I want you to know how much you have meant to me over the last 7 years. You’ve changed my life in ways I couldn’t even imagine. You’ve made me laugh, you’ve made me cry, you’ve brought me a happiness that can’t be replicated anywhere else. However, you’ve also hurt me so many times I’ve lost count. I just want you to know, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m a different person from when we first met. I was young, I was driven, I wanted us to be the best couple in the world. Like Batman and Robin, or spaghetti and meatballs, or Taylor Swift and… my point is, I wanted us to be the best together.
But sadly, I’ve changed, I want new things, new stimulus, new adventure, a new challenge. You haven’t changed and I don’t know what more I can do to fit what you want. I think it’s time for us to split ways. Please don’t cry, you’ll always have Robby Andrews’ charm and Kyle Merber’s tweets to fall back on. But I’m ready, and I would love it if you would support that. If not, fine, I thought we could both be mature about this but if you’re going to be rude about it then I’ll be the mature one and not mention the hurtful things you did in 2014.
In all seriousness, I am retiring from professional running. To those who have supported me through the good and the bad, I love you. Thank you so much for the years of kind words, congratulations, and high fives. Any Wheating fan was an instant friend to me and I couldn’t have asked for a kinder group of people with a stronger passion for the sport of running.”
You can read the full Facebook post here.
Wheating made his first U.S. Olympic team at 20 years old in one of the greatest races in U.S. history. Nick Symmonds won the 800 meter final at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field with Wheating going wide in the closing meters to nab the second spot. The Oregon Track Club’s Christian Smith dove at the finish line for the last berth to Beijing and secured a sweep by men with Oregon ties.
At 22 years old, he became the first man since Joaquim Cruz to win the 800 and 1,500 meters at the same NCAA championship. He then ran 3:30.90 in the 1,500 meters at the Monaco Diamond League, which at the time made him the fourth-fastest American of all-time. (Matt Centrowitz ran 3:30.40 in 2015 to move into third place all-time) U.S. middle distance running was on the rise and fans were likely still riding the high of Alan Webb’s stellar 2007 season. The future was bright and under the guidance of Vin Lanana and the Oregon Track Club, he made the 2011 world championship team and a second Olympic team in 2012.
One of the interesting parts of Wheating’s story is that after that race in Monaco, he never ran faster than 3:34.39. Injuries starting coming into the picture before the 2013 U.S. Outdoor Championships in Des Moines and it appeared that he was never the same on the track.
Off the track, Wheating never changed. He was always one of the honest, charismatic and classiest athletes to interact with. Whatever the future may hold, whether it’s a career continuing to make funny videos on YouTube or a foray into coaching, Wheating was and will be a great representative for U.S.A. Track and Field.