Ed McKeever admits the memory of winning gold at his home Olympic Games in 2012 will always be with him after announcing he is to hang up his canoe sprint paddle.
After an impressive career spanning a 17-year period that saw him regularly on the podium at World, European and World Cup level, McKeever has today announced his retirement from the sport.
The 33-year-old’s greatest moment came at the London 2012 Olympic Games where he claimed the first ever Olympic gold in the men’s single kayak over 200m at Dorney Lake – the shorter sprint distance having been added to the programme in London.
That was Team GB’s 26th gold medal of the Games and completed the full set of major international medals for McKeever.
The fastest man on the water at the London 2012 Olympic Games, McKeever was often referred to as the ‘Usain Bolt of the water.’
He said: “Competing and winning a gold medal at a home Olympic Games in front of thousands of British fans is something that will live with me for the rest of my life. Very few people get that opportunity so I am extremely grateful for all the support.
“The memory that stands out for me was standing on top of the podium and singing along with the national anthem, especially knowing that my friends and family were there watching.”
McKeever, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list after London, continued to be a leading name for Great Britain during the next four-year cycle.
However he just missed out on selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with training partner Liam Heath succeeding him as Olympic Champion in the K1 200m event last summer.
Also a qualified accountant, McKeever, who was World and European champion in 2010 and won five World Cup Series gold medals, will now enjoy his retirement with his new four-week old son Peter but he intends to stay involved with the sport.
“Having a son four weeks ago means that I want to spend some time at home and realistically you can’t also live the life of a full time athlete which is inherently quite a selfish one and doesn’t really fit with the life of a parent,” he added.
“I want to spend some time with my family and this has been a strong driver for my retirement. Being a dad is going well and I am really enjoying it.
“I am looking at the best way to stay involved with canoeing. It is something I have a passion for and I have really enjoyed it throughout my life, so I am certainly keen to continue in some way.”
British Canoeing performance director John Anderson MBE said: “Ed has been the consummate professional throughout his time on the British Canoeing international programme and he has continually delivered medals at the highest level.
“It was a proud moment for all those that witnessed Ed winning gold at London 2012, the culmination of years of training and dedication and it is undoubtedly the highlight of a very successful paddling career.”
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