Olympic canoe slalom champion Tim Baillie is convinced retiring was the right decision after coming up close and personal with the sport he left behind.
Baillie wrote his name into the history books at London 2012 as, alongside crewmate Etienne Stott, he became Britain’s first Olympic gold medallist in canoe slalom.
But in January the 34-year-old called it a day, leaving Stott looking for a new crewmate when he returns from shoulder surgery later this year.
Baillie’s decision was put to the ultimate test at the end of March as he commentated on the British selection trials to establish the squad for 2014.
But rather than pine for what he left behind, Baillie admits that coming face-to-face with his former love reaffirmed his decision hang up his paddle.
“Retirement has been good so far and I have been happy with my decision,” he said. “There were some things I was looking forward to doing when I had more time and I have been enjoying them.
“There are still a lot of things to figure out because I didn’t retire with a clear plan in mind so I am trying to make sure I am not too busy to put some time into that.
“And me and my wife Sarah are trying to figure out what we want to do and try to see where we see our future.
“It was good commentating on the selection trials. Myself and Etienne were chatting and he was saying that he was really itching to get out there and race and I was pretty alright with just commentating.
“I was really enjoying the racing and I think that suggested that we both made the right decisions for ourselves at this point.”
In his absence fellow Brits Richard Hounslow and David Florence – who finished runners-up to Baillie and Stott at London 2012 – have claimed the world title.
And after seeing the strength in depth Britain can currently boast while commentating, Baillie believes the future of the sport is in safe hands.
“Commentating was fun and it was something I hadn’t really done before so it was a new challenge and it was quite an enjoyable way to watch the racing,” he added.
“And the racing was absolutely top notch and the future of British canoe slalom looks really, really bright at moment.
“We have top-level athletes in every category and the rate of delivery was great. It was a three-race series and two runs per race so all the athletes were doing six runs and they were some very impressive rates of delivery.
“That was good to see as in our career myself and Etienne took a long time to find that consistency of delivery so it was very cool to see the psychological side of it click so quickly.”
© Sportsbeat 2014