"I wanted to finish on top," she said. "You go to a great party. You're having the absolute best time: It's the greatest party in the world. And then suddenly it gets to be about 12 and you're starting to get a little bit tired, and you're having just a little less fun.
"Now that," said Lindley, "is the exact right time to leave that party."
Lindley, 33, started triathlon in 1993. The American won two World Cup titles in 2000, and while she missed her Olympic bid that year, she rebounded in 2001 with wins at five World Cup events as well as a win at the ITU World Championship in Edmonton. In 2002, she won four World Cup titles, and finished 13th at the ITU World Championship in Cancun, Mexico. Her overall points standing left her on top for the series title.
Lindley says she had considered retirement after her stellar season in 2001, but wanted to compete one more year. Her retirement, she says, was planned well before competing in Cancun this past weekend.
"My main goal for this year," said Lindley from her home in Boulder, Colo., "was to prove that I am a consistent athlete. I wanted to finish the year ranked number one; I wanted to prove that I belonged in that number one spot.
"My hunger now lies in wanting to come home and give back to all those people who have supported me," said the Brown University graduate. Adding that all of her future goals involve "staying connected with triathlon."
Lindley named broadcasting and motivational speaking as her primary areas of professional interest.