Four-time Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent announced his retirement from rowing on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old ruled out the chance of a fifth gold in Beijing in 2008, saying: "I'm announcing that Athens is my last race in a Great Britain vest.
"I poured my soul into that race in Athens in a way more than I can describe. Chasing records is a bad reason for continuing.
"It's supposed to be sad retiring but I feel anything but sad."
Pinsent won his fourth Olympic gold medal in Athens in August, by the narrowest of margins from Canada.
But he has turned down the chance of equalling former crew-mate Sir Steve Redgrave's five gold medals in Beijing.
"Coming out of Sydney I was happy to throw myself into another four-year
campaign sure it would be worth it and committed," said Pinsent.
"I knew that the chances of Athens being my last games were very high and so it proved.
"Nothing that occurred in the build-up made me 100% sure I would retire, but
nothing happened during the race, or since, to make me waver.
"I always thought my body would tell me, in the weeks following the games,
whether it wants to do it again. I knew a month after Sydney I wanted to row
again, after Athens it was different. I think my body knew it was done.
"I was never going to speak publicly until I was secure in my decision, and now I am.
"I am so proud of what I, and we, have achieved in the last 15 years in the
team and perhaps for the first time I can look back without any danger of
"You might think there was one defining moment that tilted the scales in
favour of retirement but there truly was not."
He could now become the next British Olympic Association chairman when Craig Reedie steps down next November.
Pinsent has gained experience on the board of the London 2012
Olympic bid and as an athlete member on the International Olympic Committee.
He is also planning to launch a corporate rowing challenge and is hoping to develop his media career.
He said: "I want to investigate all the offers that rowing made me turn down."
Amateur rowing chief David Tanner said to Pinsent: "You're going out at the top of your game and GB rowing has never been in such good shape."
Pinsent's Athens crew-mates James Cracknell and Ed Coode are to take a year off before deciding whether to carry on until Beijing, while Steve Williams, the fourth member of the quartet, has yet to make up his mind.
Pinsent was selected to row with Steve Redgrave in 1990 when he was 19, and he won his first gold in the coxless pair in Barcelona two years later.
Redgrave and Pinsent repeated that feat in Atlanta in 1996 and won gold in Sydney, Redgrave's fifth, in the coxless four.
And Pinsent paid tribute to his former crew-mates.
"Rowing has often been called the ultimate team sport, and I would
like to thank the men with whom I achieved those medals," he said.
literally not be able to do that on my own.
"Steve Redgrave will always know how much I owe him. He started rowing with a
cocky 19-year-old and finished his career with a seasoned successful athlete -
that transition had so much to do with him."
Pinsent also paid tribute to his coach, adding: "Jurgen Grobler has been constant throughout my career.
"He is immensely loyal to his athletes and his adopted country. Though he's
tried to tempt me with ideas of wind-down training camps, I'm not sure if
"Either you're in to win or you're not."
Despite his retirement, Pinsent believes Britain will be successful at the
2008 Olympics in Beijing.
"I will be cheering you on from the beer tent. A little drunk, and perhaps a
little jealous," he said.