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Aberdeen-born canoe slalom legend – and three-time Olympic medallist – David Florence retires

David Florence, pictured competing at the 2012 Olympics in London, has retired from canoeing
David Florence, pictured competing at the 2012 Olympics in London, has retired from canoeing

Three-time Olympic medallist David Florence has retired from competitive canoe slalom after 21 years in the British senior team.

The 39-year-old, who was born in Aberdeen, has decided to call time on a glittering career.

Florence won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the individual C1-slalom, and – at London 2012 and Rio 2016 – he claimed silvers in the C2 event alongside Richard Hounslow.

The man who started canoeing on the Water of Leith as a 14-year-old also won three World Championship gold medals (twice in C1, while also doubling up with the C2 at the 2013 event with Hounslow), a European Championship gold and seven World Cup golds.

Reflecting on his career, Florence said: “I’ve been really fortunate to have had so many great experiences and get to do something I love for so long. I feel really privileged.

“There are so many highlights – to go into the Olympic Games in 2008 and win that first Olympic medal was really special and then to win the world championships in C1 and C2 on the same weekend (in 2013).

“I’ve loved going to the Olympics, winning medals, but what’s kept me motivated is the enjoyment of trying to improve and trying to be my best.

“I have genuinely enjoyed being out on a winter’s day. If there’s no one there and the weather is not quite right, it’s just me, practising upstream gates and feeling that I’m getting better at them.  I’ve always had that in me, just that desire to be better, always looking for new ideas, ways to improve.

“I think that’s definitely been a big part of why I’ve done it for so long and why I’ve really enjoyed it.

“To be successful in any sport you need a bit of luck and I’ve had great support from brilliant coaches.

David Florence, left, and Richard Hounslow with their Olympic silver medals in Rio in 2016

“I’ve had good training groups, an awesome bunch of people that I’ve enjoyed growing up within the sport, people that I looked up to and I think all those things have combined to a really great career.

“I’ve always had a lot of support from my parents. My dad started me and my brother out canoeing and my sister has always been super supportive, too. They’ve travelled to so many international competitions to watch me race.

“My wife has been incredible and hugely supportive. It’s been pretty full on, we’ve had three kids in the last seven years, so going away and training has been hard.

“My daughter was born just a few weeks before the Rio Olympics so Becky has been so supportive.”

 

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