Two-time US Olympic fencer Nzingha Prescod, a member of the 2018 world women's foil team champions, has retired from competition at age 27 due to a painful hip condition.
Prescod, the first US women to win a Grand Prix foil title in 2013 at Marseilles, had been training in hope of a third Olympic berth this year at Tokyo.
Prescod faces hip replacement surgery and has needed a scooter or a crutch to get around New York, where she has had to limp through training.
Prescod has endured pain for the past year due to avascular necrosis of the hip, which happens when blood flow is disrupted to the head of the femur bone, killing bone tissue and leading to small bone fractures.
"I literally have a disability and was trying to fence," Prescod said in a posting on the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee website on Thursday.
"It has been terrible. It has been so hard and no one knows. I keep everything by my bed... every step hurts. It's terrible."
Prescod, ranked 34th in the world, last competed on the World Cup circuit in November, placing 69th at Cairo, after struggling just to get to Egypt.
"I have this struggle to walk, just to walk," she said. "I haven't been able to walk well for over a year. I've been uncomfortable walking, and it just progressively got worse and worse.
"There was no moment where I wasn't fencing with pain. It's just like, what level of pain was I willing to endure?
"Just getting to the tournament was a battle. I honestly don?t understand. Looking back, what was I doing? I think my threshold of pain is really high."
Prescod began fencing at age nine at a New York fencing club founded by Peter Westbrook, an Olympic bronze medal fencer.
Ten years later, Prescod competed in the 2012 London Olympics and in 2015 she became the first African-American woman to win a medal at the world championships, taking bronze in foil.
She was also a member of women's world foil teams that took silver in 2017 and bronze last year. The 2018 championship squad must now try to overcome losing Prescod to reach the Olympic podium on July 30 at Tokyo.
Hip injury forces two-time Olympic fencer Nzingha Prescod to retire