Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has stunned the world of swimming by retiring at the age of 24.
Thorpe was keen to look ahead at a packed Sydney news conference
The Australian won three gold medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney and added two titles in Athens four years later.
But he has barely competed since then because of injury and fatigue, and told a news conference in Sydney he had been weighing up his future for some time.
"I've had a great career. It isn't the best time to be walking away from the sport but it's my time," he said.
"I don't think I should be retiring, I think I'm far too young to retire, but it's a thing that we should be celebrating. I've had a great career.
"It's a decision that has been difficult. I realise that there's things in my life that are more important for me.
"I've reached all the dizzying heights of this sport. I've had a tremendous amount of success and I've also had setbacks.
Swimming has been a security blanket but I haven't balanced out my life
"None of my goals included breaking any more world records. I knew how to do it, but it wasn't as inspiring as it should have been."
Born in Sydney, Thorpe first swam for his country at the age of 14 and set the first of his 13 world records a year later.
In addition to his Olympic success, he went on to claim 11 world titles and 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals, six of which he gained in Manchester in 2002.
But he missed the 2005 World Championships after deciding to take a year off and pulled out of the Commonwealth Games this year because of glandular fever.
The Australian sporting icon moved to Los Angeles this year and rumours were rife that he was losing motivation.
He was expected to announce his withdrawal from next month's national trials, ruling him out of next year's World Championships in Melbourne.
However, speculation that he was thinking of going much further than that was confirmed to a packed news conference.
There are suggestions that he might now look into a career in television or film.
"Swimming has been a security blanket but I haven't balanced out my life. I realised I had to prioritise other things and let swimming take a backseat," Thorpe added.
"I'm looking at the next phase and that means I'm realigning what the most important thing is for me to do.
"Swimming is not at the top of the list, which has not happened before."