Double Olympic champion Stanning retires from rowing

After two Olympic gold medals, two world titles, two European titles and ten World Cup gold medals, Heather Stanning has called time on her remarkable rowing career.

The decision brings to an end her winning run with partner Helen Glover, with whom she went unbeaten for 39 races, since the 2011 World Championships.

At 31, Stanning will now focus on her career as a major in the British Army, and said she knew shortly after her win in Rio that another four years of commitment was not on the cards.

"If I was honest with myself and said I was going to commit to another four years, would I have the same drive and determination I had four years ago?" she said. "Probably not - therefore is it worth half-heartedly committing to something?

"There was no pressure on me to make a decision this year. I could have taken a whole year to make that choice, but I wanted to know what I was doing.

"As last season progressed I realised I'd achieved all I ever thought I could in the sport and, as you get older, it gets harder. I'm quite content with what I've achieved."

After victory at London 2012 Stanning returned to her Army commitments, taking a break from rowing as she toured Helmand Province, in Afghanistan.

During that time Glover raced with Polly Swann – who went to Rio and won silver in the women’s eight – before Stanning returned to reform the formidable pairing with Glover.

And now, with multiple gold medals round her neck, the Somerset rower feels she has nothing left to achieve.

"I don't feel I've got anything else to prove to myself," said Stanning.

"I wanted things to get back to normal before I made the decision firmly and I wanted to make sure it was the right decision.

"It's about time I made the decision and it has helped me focus on what to do next, certainly with work and the army because I know that's something I want to go back to.

"It seemed the right time to make that decision."

Glover and Stanning’s London gold was Team GB’s first of the home Games, as well as being the first for British female rowing in Olympic history.

As a result, their gold in Rio made the duo the first British women rowers to ever defend an Olympic title – but Stanning is sure this will not mean the end of Glover’s success on the water.

"It does have an impact on her [Glover], but it doesn't necessarily change her mind with what she wants to do," added Stanning.

"It seemed a normal, natural conversation, and I'm sure it was of no surprise to her. She knows me so well.

"It will be the end of our partnership in a rowing boat but it's not the end of our friendship and that's just as important.

"It was a great success and hopefully people enjoyed watching and supporting us as much as we enjoyed being part of it.

"We both worked hard. Hopefully people will look back and see two individuals who had their opportunities and absolutely made the most of their time while they were able to.”

As the news broke, Glover, paid tribute to her friend, and colleague, with a statement on Twitter.

“Heather has been my teammate for six years and in that time has been my voice of logic, a driving force, my friend, and my maid of honour,” said the 30-year-old.

“I’m fortunate enough to have sat at the start line of two Olympic Games with Heather. There is nobody else I would have wanted in the boat with me in those moments.

“She is dependable, determined, and a formidable athlete. The Army has given us both incredible support and I am sure she will continue to flourish in her career.

“Thank you, Heather, not just for the success we shared, but for making it the most fun journey possible.” Sportsbeat 2016