On This Day in 2004 – Sir Matthew Pinsent announces retirement from rowing

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent announced his retirement from rowing on this day in 2004, three months after his final triumph in Athens in the coxless fours.

Pinsent, then 34, said he had lost his desire to train since securing his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the summer.

“After Sydney I was happy to throw myself into a four-year campaign. After Athens it has been different, I think my body knows it is done,” said Pinsent.

Great Britain rowers (left to right) Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster, Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell celebrate after winning the Gold Medal in the Men’s Coxless Four Final at the Olympic Games in Sydney
Great Britain rowers, from left to right, Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster, Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell celebrate after winning the gold medal in the men’s coxless four final at the Olympic Games in Sydney (John Giles/PA)

“I always said I would retire after Athens and so it has proved. I will be cheering you on from the beer tent, perhaps a bit drunk and a bit jealous.”

Pinsent had helped Sir Steve Redgrave to three of his five consecutive Olympic titles but the victory in Athens – secured in a photo finish over Canada – was arguably the finest of his career as he broke out of his old team-mate’s shadow and defied the odds.

Pinsent had been unbeaten at a major championships for 12 years but that run came to an end in 2003 as Britain’s preparations for the Olympics were marred by injuries and crew changes.

That meant Canada started as favourites but Pinsent, joined by James Cracknell, Ed Coode and Steve Williams, snatched victory by 0.08 seconds.

Pinsent had previously won Olympic gold in the coxless pairs alongside Redgrave 1992 and 1996, with the pair then joining Cracknell and Tim Foster in the coxless four in 2000.

As Pinsent announced he was stepping away, Redgrave predicted his former team-mate would do as he had done, reversing his 1996 retirement to triumph again four years later, but Pinsent was true to his word and has gone on to make a new career in broadcasting.

He was knighted a month after his retirement as part of the New Year’s Honours list.