Olympic champion Ruth Beitia has retired ©Getty Images

Spain's Rio 2016 Olympic high jump gold medallist Ruth Beitia has announced her retirement from athletics.

She became the oldest Olympic champion in a jumping event by winning in Rio de Janeiro with a height of 1.97 metres.

Her Rio glory made her the first Spanish woman to win an Olympic athletics event and was justification for her decision to return to the sport four years ago, having briefly retired in 2012.

This success was achieved just a few weeks after a leap of 1.98m in Amsterdam brought Beitia European Athletics Championships gold for the third time in a row and she ended the summer of 2016 as the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Diamond League champion.

The 38-year-old’s final competition was the IAAF World Championships in London earlier this year, where she finished 12th.

Earlier in the year she earned the silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade and jumped a season’s best of 1.98m indoors on home soil in Madrid.

“Ruth has always been an example on and off the track, said Raúl Chapado, President of the Spanish Athletics Federation.

“Beyond her great achievements, she has also inspired many young athletes in our country.

"Admired by her teammates and her rivals, she will now continue to work to make our sport bigger.”

The Spaniard took women's high jump gold at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
The Spaniard took women's high jump gold at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Beitia also received the international fair play award for her sportsmanship during the high jump competition at this year's World Championships.

The Spaniard was given the prize after she consoled Italian athlete Alessia Trost when she failed to qualify for the final.

The 24-year-old was visibly emotional after she was unable to progress.

Trost had endured a torrid build-up to the event after both her mother and coach passed away before the Championships.

Beitia received her award from the International Fair Play Committee and the IAAF.