Zac Purchase: Former Olympic champion retires from rowing

British Olympic gold medallist Zac Purchase has announced his retirement from professional rowing.

The 27-year-old won silver with Mark Hunter in a dramatic lightweight double final at London 2012, having won gold in Beijing four years earlier.

"I have spent time reflecting on those results and I felt it was the right time to step away from rowing to explore other opportunities," he said.

"I plan to keep fit just in case a sporting challenge presents itself."

Purchase and Hunter, who retired last summer, first rowed together in 2007, with the partnership proving an instant hit with two silvers and a bronze in the three World Cup regattas that season.

GB pipped for gold in dramatic finish

They won Great Britain's first Olympic lightweight rowing medal with victory in Beijing and gold medals followed at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships.

Cheltenham-born Purchase, who had to keep his average weight to 70kg to compete as a lightweight, took 18 months out after the London Olympics.

He returned to rowing in a bid to make the heavyweight squad, but his attempt proved unsuccessful at senior trials.

Purchase added: "I have been part of the GB rowing team for nearly a decade and during that time have shared a tremendously successful period with some of the world's finest athletes.

"Winning the gold medal with Mark at the Beijing Games in 2008 is as memorable today as it was those six years ago.

"To then have the chance to compete on home water in London and to win silver in front of a rapturous home crowd was an honour and something I will never forget.

Purchase medal haul

  • Olympics: Gold (2008), silver (2012)
  • World Rowing Championships: Gold (2010 & 2011), bronze (2007)

"I wish the British team well in their build up to the Rio Olympics and beyond."

GB lightweight coach Paul Thompson said: "Zac has had a stand-out career in rowing and is one of Great Britain's greatest lightweight rowers of all time."

Purchase suffered from injury and illness in the build-up to London 2012.

However, the duo reached the final of the lightweight double sculls at Eton Dorney and made a fantastic start only for Purchase's seat to break, forcing the race to be stopped.

In the restart, the defending champions led for much of the race before being overhauled by Denmark with just a few metres to go.