Michael Schumacher was praised in Germany as one of the greatest sports personalities of his era Sunday when he announced his retirement from Formula One racing.
"One of the greatest sporting careers is ending," said Thomas Bach, Germany's top sports official and a vice president of the IOC. "His achievements go beyond Formula One and sport itself." Praise poured in even from sporting rivals.
Mario Theissen, motor sports chief at BMW, said it was a "dramatic end of a dramatic and equally successful career." "I am pretty sure it's a final decision," he said. Norbert Haug, Theissen's counterpart at Mercedes, wasn't so sure.
"Rumors will start as soon as tomorrow about when he's going to come back," Haug said. "I am a little bit sad, actually. What he achieved was surely extraordinary."
Franz Beckenbauer, the former soccer star and Germany's most popular sports personality, said Schumacher's retirement was a "pity."
"It's always too bad when such a great personality steps down," he said.
Helmut Digel, a vice president of the IAAF, said Schumacher made a "smart decision."
"When you retire too late, you damage your reputation. Michael Schumacher quit when he is still world class. You can only wish that all athletes made such decisions," Digel said.