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By Philip O'Connor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Winter Olympic gold medallist Anette Norberg will not defend her title at Sochi next year, the Swedish Curling Association said in a statement on Wednesday.
Norberg has decided to retire from curling, citing a lack of time and motivation to continue a career that saw her win 23 championship medals over almost 20 years.
Described by the Association as "one of the most successful curling players of all time," Norberg won three world championships and seven European titles in addition to Olympic gold medals in 2006 and 2010.
"Curling has been my life for so many years, so obviously I'm going to miss it a lot," Norberg said in the statement.
"But life as a curling player at elite level is very demanding, and I feel that I lack the time and the dedication necessary."
Despite cementing her place in Swedish sporting history when her team beat Canada in the 2010 final to defend their Olympic title, Norberg was by no means certain of a chance to represent Sweden at the Sochi games next year.
Sweden's curling association has recently preferred to send a team led by Norberg's rival Margaretha Sigfridsson to international competitions.
"Obviously it's sad for the curling world that a profile like Anette has decided to stop playing, but luckily we have other teams that can shoulder her responsibilities," curling association general secretary Stefan Lund said in the statement.
"Anette will not disappear from the curling arena. In some way she will be still here and a part of the exciting journey towards the future that Swedish curling is on."
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)
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