SYDNEY, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Australian sailor Mat Belcher, who won two gold medals and a silver in the 470 class over three Summer Games, has decided not to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics and announced his retirement on Thursday.
The eight-times 470 world champion considered having a crack at a fourth Summer Games, when the event will be mixed sex for the first time, but instead called time on his 22-year career with the Australian sailing team.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” Belcher said in a Sailing Australia news release.
“I have sailed with some of the greatest athletes in the world, been a part of such a successful team and have been coached by some of the greats … but I am now 40-years-old with a young family so the time is right for me to move on to the next phase of my life.”
He won his first Olympic title at the 2012 London Games with Malcolm Page before finishing second in Rio and returning to the top of the podium last year in Tokyo with Will Ryan.
Belcher was awarded the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the closing ceremony in Tokyo.
“Mat has been at the very top of international sailing for more than a decade,” said Australian Olympic Committee President Ian Chesterman.
“Even with our country’s rich Olympic sailing legacy, Mat stands atop as Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford
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