Hyun Hee, Korea’s first women’s world fencing champion, announced that she would be unable to take part in qualifying for this summer’s Athens Olympics.

Hyun, 26, told the Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday, that she has left the Taeneung National High-level Training Center, and that for now it seems impossible for her to participate in the Olympics.

The fencer grabbed the international spotlight as she took the women’s individual epee gold at the 2002 World Fencing Championships in Lisbon, Portugal. She was also expected to be one of South Korea¡¯s best hopes for a gold medal in Athens.

It turns out that her world title came at a price as she damaged the cartilage in one of her knees at the championships.

Hyun had an operation in February, but her condition failed to improve at tournaments that followed and has deteriorated to the point where she can’t even do running for exercises. The injury also cost her a good result at this year’s Worlds in Havana, Cuba, as she tumbled out in the round of 32.

Upon returning to South Korea, she asked to be dropped from the national team and is working on a physical recovery program with her team Kyonggi Sports Council.

“My condition was so terrible I couldn’t even follow the training course. I feel so sorry about what happened, but I am also aware I shouldn’t burden the national team,” Hyun said, “For now, physically getting better is the only thing I can focus on.”