Just a month ago, Ornit Schwartz signed a new contract with Elitzur Ramle. After a tremendous season that generated a championship, the European Cup, the 32-year-old looked forward to new heights.
Yesterday, all choked up, Schwartz announced her retirement.
"My first title was in Ramle, and this season I was a part of a historic accomplishment," she said, seemingly trying to comfort herself. "This is the meaning of retiring at the top, after three titles in one season."
When Schwartz returned to practice recently, she felt pains in her back and leg, both of which she had previously injured.
Yesterday, she announced she would like to retract the decision, but her body tells her otherwise. "Since I made my decision two weeks ago, every morning I tell myself there's no more basketball, and I can barely breathe."
The first person she told was Arik Shivek, her first women's national team coach, who came to yesterday's press conference. Tal Natan, whom Schwartz says helped to launch her career, was also there.
"Ornit combined professionalism with a trait few other athletes have - sensitivity," he said. "I think that's why people love her so much."
Eden Inbar, her coach at Ramle, said the locker room would be forever different without her.
Schwartz announced that she plans to remain involved in the sport, promoting it and fighting for the status of the female Israeli player.