THE girlfriend of top golfer Tiger Woods will miss the Sochi Olympics because of a knee injury, leaving the Winter Games without one of its biggest stars.
US skier Lindsey Vonn (29) announced her decision exactly one month before the opening ceremony in Russia.
A statement added that Vonn will have surgery "shortly".
In a Facebook posting, Vonn said she is "devastated" to miss the Games, "but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level".
She took home two medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games, including becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic gold in the downhill.
Vonn is also a four-time overall World Cup champion, the most recognised name in Alpine skiing – and, as it happens, the girlfriend of Woods.
Add it all up, and she would have been the focus of plenty of media coverage in Sochi.
But Vonn tore two ligaments in her right knee during a high-speed crash at the world championships last February, sidelining her for about 10 months. She retore her surgically repaired ligaments in a training crash in November.
Then, after returning to competition in early December by finishing 40th, 11th and fifth in a set of World Cup races at Lake Louise, Alberta, she sprained a ligament last month.
"I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)," Vonn said.
"I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February," she wrote. "On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all of the love and support."