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Rio champion Tom Ransley sunk when games pushed back

Golden boy: Ransley
shows off his medal
at the British team
parade in 2016

OLYMPIC gold medallist Tom Ransley has revealed he quit the British rowing team, ending his bid to reach the Tokyo Games, because he was certain he could ‘not eke out’ another year of his career.

Ransley recently became the first British star to decide against carrying on for an extra 12 months to the rearranged Olympics, which were postponed this summer.

The 34-year-old, who won gold as part of the eight in Rio four years ago, was on course to make the team to defend that title in Japan but admits more athletes could follow his lead in finding 2021 too much of a stretch.

Ransley, who also won Olympic bronze at London 2012, told Metro: ‘I started to think things weren’t going my way and at some point you realise that you’re putting in far more than you are getting out of it.

‘I had thought I wouldn’t be able to eke this out for another year and the fire wasn’t really burning as bright.

‘For me, the decision to put back Tokyo just gave me confirmation of what I had been thinking anyway but other people might also be thinking the same way. For others, the extra time may help them but there will be an impact on individuals and on nations from the Games being put back.’

The Kent rower, who hung up his oar after a 14-year career which also saw him win two world titles, has not been having second thoughts about the toughest decision he has had to make in his sporting life and insists medals, while important, are not everything to him.

‘I’m magnanimous about it. There are no hard feelings, I’m not bitter about it. It was hard to make the decision but I’m acutely aware it is only sport and even more so in the context of coronavirus. There are much more serious things at stake,’ he added.

‘I’ve always known it (a medal) is just a piece of metal and it doesn’t change who you are. You live this all-or-nothing lifestyle in rowing, not always getting everything right in your life outside because you’re getting it right in your sport.’

Ransley has admitted he will not rush to return to the water, if at all, mainly due to a reluctance to see how far his levels have fallen.

He wants to try his hand at journalism next and said: ‘I’m scared of how crap I’ll be when I get back in a boat — I don’t even know if I will. Looking at rubbish numbers on the ergo would be so demoralising.

‘But I’m trying to stay active and stop myself getting into the negatives of not going to Tokyo. I’d like to try and see the journey through, support the team somehow, even if it’s as a pundit or journalist.’