home >> news >> Olympic gold medallist Tim Brabants retires from Canoe Sprint

Olympic gold medallist Tim Brabants retires from Canoe Sprint

Article Date: 15/04/2013

Tim Brabants MBE, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic canoeist and one of the world’s most accomplished Men's K1 sprint kayakers, announced his retirement from the sport, today.

The Surrey born 36 year old is a four times Olympic Games competitor.   During the 2008 Beijing Games he made history by winning Britain’s first Olympic gold medal in canoeing, with a convincing win in the K1 1000m where he led from start to finish. 

At the Beijing Games he also won bronze in the K1 500m event, adding to the bronze medal he had won previously at the 2000 Sydney Games in the K1 1000m.  He is a multiple World and European Champion and, in 2009, was awarded an MBE for his achievements in canoeing.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, but reluctantly I realise I have reached the point where I need to retire from the sport,” said Brabants.  

“It has become more obvious to me over the last few months that as much as I love the sport and would love to be Olympic and World Champion again, I've reached the point where I'm unlikely to improve or achieve the same results that I once achieved.” 

Brabants competed in this weekend’s GB selection events at Nottingham and reached the selection criteria, making him eligible to compete internationally for Great Britain in 2013.  Yet he felt that continuing to compete this season, with the likelihood he would not regain his best form, would be unfair on both his family and fellow athletes.

                 (L) Brabants, with his 2008 Olympic Medals & MBE & (R) in action at the 2011 World Cup series.

“As a competitive athlete with a competitive brain I cannot make this decision easily and I know lots of athletes have had to go through this,” he continued. 

“It is a difficult decision and it is not based on this weekend, because I have done well enough to be selected to race internationally from my results this weekend. 

“But it wouldn't be right to just keep competing for the sake of competing and, when you're not getting your best results, it wouldn't be fair on my family or on the other athletes in the sport that are trying to come through.”

Brabants graduated as a doctor from the University of Nottingham in 2002, but put his medical career on hold to concentrate on competing in last summer’s London Olympic Games. Since last autumn he has been based in Cape Town with his South African born wife and children, a two year old daughter and five month old son. 


He now plans to resume his medical career with the likelihood of specialising in emergency medicine.  He is keeping his options open about the possibility of returning to Britain and is keen to stay involved with the sport. 

“Now is the time to step back, get back into my medical career and see where the next few months take me,” he added. 

“I would like to stay involved in the sport in some way and my level of involvement will become more apparent over the next six months to a year.”

Eric Farrell, Brabants coach for the past 20 years, sees him as a pioneer of the sport of Sprint Canoeing in Britain and said:  “Tim has reached the pinnacle of the sport and he is by far the most successful canoeist we have ever had in Britain. 

“I am highly fortunate to have been involved with an athlete of Tim’s calibre right through his career and it has been great to make the whole journey with him.  He has been an absolute pleasure to work with.” 

Paying tribute to Brabants and his many achievements, John Anderson MBE, GB Canoeing Performance Director said:  “Tim Brabants has been a true champion and a huge inspiration for athletes in canoeing in the UK. 

“When he won the first ever Olympic medal for GB in Sprint Canoeing at Sydney in 2000 he led the way for other athletes in our sport. 

“He continued throughout his career to win Olympic, World and European gold medals, and is the most successful Olympic athlete that our sport has ever seen.  We wish Tim and his family every success and happiness for the future.”