GLOUCESTER'S 2008 Olympic rowing champion Zac Purchase has hung up his oars at the age of 27.

Purchase, originally from Tewkesbury, partnered Mark Hunter to win Olympic gold in the lightweight double scull at the Beijing Games and they followed up by becoming world champions in both 2010 and 2011.

The duo also took Olympic silver in London 2012.

Purchase won a lightweight men's single world championship title in 2006 – a year after taking the world U23 title in this event.

Both Purchase and Hunter were required to keep their average weight to 70kg (11stone) during every racing season.

Purchase 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 (Hunter) at the Beijing Games in 2008 is as

memorable today as it was six years ago.

"To then have the chance to compete in London and to win silver in front of a rapturous home crowd was an honour and something I will never forget.

"Since London, 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.

"I plan to keep fit just in case a sporting challenge presents itself. Rowing has played a significant part in my life, and was how I met my wife.

"I am indebted to everyone who has supported my career as a lightweight athlete over the years. I wish the British team well in their build-up to the Rio Olympics and beyond.”

Sir David Tanner, GBRT performance director said: "Zac burst on to the scene with some outstanding performances as a young, lightweight rower and carried those through into a top-flight Olympic career in the lightweight men's double. We wish him well while he considers his next steps."