Last Updated: 15/04/13 2:30pm
Tim Brabants celebrating his gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games
Britain's most successful Olympic canoeist Tim Brabants has announced his retirement from the sport.
The 36-year-old appeared at the Games four times and became the first British canoeist to win gold when he stormed to victory in the K1 1,000 metres event in Beijing five years ago.
Brabants, who is also a world and European champion, took bronze in the K1 500m competition in Beijing after opening his Olympic medal account with bronze at Sydney 2000 in the K1 1,000m.
He was awarded an MBE in 2009 but his Olympic career, as it transpired, did not end on another high as he finished last in the K1 1,000m final at London 2012, after which he admitted he was thinking about retirement.
"This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, but reluctantly I realise I have reached the point where I need to retire from the sport," said Brabants, who will now pursue a career in medicine.
"It has become more obvious to me over the last few months that as much as I love the sport and would love to be Olympic and world champion again, I've reached the point where I'm unlikely to improve or achieve the same results that I once achieved.
"It is a difficult decision and it is not based on this weekend, because I have done well enough to be selected to race internationally from my results.
"But it wouldn't be right to just keep competing for the sake of competing and, when you're not getting your best results, it wouldn't be fair on my family or on the other athletes in the sport that are trying to come through."
GB Canoeing performance director John Anderson hailed his achievements, adding: "Tim has been a true champion and a huge inspiration for athletes in canoeing in the UK. When he won the first ever Olympic medal for GB in Sprint Canoeing at Sydney in 2000 he led the way for other athletes in our sport."
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