09/11/2012 03:56 EDT | Updated 11/11/2012 05:12 EST

Iron deficiency ends heartbreaking triathlon season for Paula Findlay

Paula Findlay's triathlon season is over because of iron deficiency anemia, a condition she believes played a huge role in her last-place finish at the London Olympics.

The 23-year-old from Edmonton had hoped to make up for her heartbreak in London with a strong showing at next month's world championships in New Zealand. But recent blood work came back showing low levels of iron, which will keep her out of the event in Auckland.

"Unfortunately the numbers came back with some of the lowest iron levels that the doctors had ever seen," Findlay wrote in a blog entry Tuesday. "It is a simple but quite serious problem that likely had a huge impact on my race in London, and got overlooked because of the focus on healing my injury."

The former world No. 1 had a disastrous race in London. A hip injury that had plagued her for a year limited her to just six weeks of quality training before the Games. She had hoped to build on those few weeks and salvage 2012.

In her blog entry entitled "A Series of Unfortunate Events" — named for her favourite childhood book series — Findlay wrote that she won't be able to maintain a high level of training ahead of the World Championship Series Grand Final, Oct. 20-21.

"I'm devastated and frustrated that I can't have a shot at another race this season," Findlay said. "I was hoping to restore some confidence in myself after the Olympic disaster. I guess this will have to wait until next year."

The image of a sobbing Findlay crossing the finish line will be one of the most enduring of the London Olympics. Her tears came after a year of frustration. She won six world championship series races over 2010 and 2011, including one on the Olympic course.

But then she injured her hip just before a World Cup in Edmonton in July of 2011, the beginning of a downward spiral.

Findlay, who has been training with the Regional Triathlon Centre program in Guelph, Ont., since the Games, said she shared her recent news about her iron deficiency in response to inquiries about her plans for the season.

"For now I need to focus on what I CAN do. Some good lower intensity base training while I work on getting my iron and energy levels back up," she wrote. "This might actually be a good thing, establishing a good foundation for next year so that I can come back strong and healthy.

"Liver for dinner, yes please!"