MARLOW’s Olympic champion Zac Purchase has announced his retirement from rowing.

The 27-year-old is one of Britain’s most successful ever oarsmen after winning gold alongside Mark Hunter at the Beijing Games and a silver at London 2012.

Purchase has also won six World Cups and four World Championships.

He said: “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.”

However, Hunter retired last summer and Purchase’s attempt to step up from the lightweight doubles sculls into a heavier crew hasn’t worked out.

He said: “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 and Hunter first rowed together in 2007 and won two silvers and a bronze in the World Cups.

However, their star rose the following summer when they enjoyed a cleansweep of World Cup golds before going on to become Britain’s first ever lightweight double sculls Olympics winners.

Illness then dogged Hunter for the next year, before he returned to the boat to become world champion with Hunter in 2010 and 2011.

A second Olympic gold on home waters would have capped off a glittering career perfectly, but it wasn’t to be.

Purchase’s seat broke early in the final, and from the restart he and Hunter were reeled in the Danes after leading for most of the race.

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."