Olympic Champion Baillie to retire from canoe slalom

Lausanne, Jan 27, 2014: Tim Baillie, who with C2 partner Etienne Stott made history in the London 2012 Olympics by winning a first gold medal for GB in the sport of canoe slalom, has decided to retire from the sport. Best friends since teenagers and a highly popular team on the international circuit, the pair enjoyed one of sport’s longest running partnerships which spanned nine seasons.

Winning gold in London was the pinnacle made more impressive after the pair made a remarkable comeback following injury to Stott’s shoulder a year earlier.

“Retiring from international canoe slalom racing has been a difficult decision which I’ve agonised over for a long time,” said the Aberdeen 34 year old.

“I still love canoeing but I’ve realised that I no longer have the underlying desire required to commit all of my time to the singular pursuit of canoe slalom excellence.

“Looking back, the London Olympic cycle took a lot of energy, particularly fighting back from so many setbacks and I think that burned through my passion for the sport.”

In 2013 Bailie and Stott reached good form with a return to the World Cup podium. But during the third leg of the World Cup at Le Seu D’Urgell in the Spanish Pyrenees, Stott dislocated his shoulder and their season ended. A lengthy spell away from competition gave Baillie the opportunity to evaluate his future.

“Whilst my decision to retire is tinged with sadness I feel that Etienne and I have both had an incredible journey to look back on and a lot of exciting things to look forward to, so overall I’m feeling positive,” continued Baillie.

“I’d like to thank Etienne for all the adventures; it’s truly a testament to our friendship that it’s survived nine years of being strapped into the same canoe.

“Thank you to my wife, family and friends for all their support and understanding over the years. My parents in particular put my interests far beyond their own in providing me with incredible opportunities growing up and, most importantly, did it without putting any pressure on me to achieve results.”

Stott, whose 2013 injury proved more serious than his pre Olympics shoulder dislocation, is now back on the road to recovery and began paddling again this month with plans to continue in the sport of C2 and compete in the Rio 2016 Games.

“It’s sad because it’s the end of a chapter but I respect Tim’s decision and it is the right thing for Tim,” said the Bedford 34 year old who wants to regain full fitness before seeking a new partner.

“I’m so proud and happy with the career that Tim and I had together, and very thankful for the good times, the hard times and the challenges that we’ve been through as a crew.

“It’s taught me so much and developed me so far as an athlete, far beyond anything I would have dreamed of. I don’t think that would have happened with another person and Tim has helped me so much. He has made a huge contribution to the sport and to me as an athlete.”

Since winning gold in London, Baillie and Stott have been perfect ambassadors for canoe slalom, embarking on an endless run of appearances, ceremonies, dinners, media opportunities and school visits, whilst supporting GB Canoeing’s legacy projects Last year they were recognised by both being awarded MBEs.

Finding themselves regularly in the spotlight, the pair discovered a talent for motivating others through public speaking, an activity which Baillie now plans to pursue.

“Having an incredibly up and down career with lots of interesting challenges and powerful lessons makes it a great story,” he said.

“Since the Olympics I’ve really enjoyed public speaking as an opportunity to share what I’ve learnt about performing in a high pressure environment, so it is something I’m looking forward to continuing.”

Whilst Baillie decides where to go next he plans to take on some outdoor adventures and continue contributing to the London Games legacy, an area he finds rewarding and sees as a great way to repay the nation for its support. Having been an athlete long before lottery funding, he can appreciate the support available now to today’s top competitors.

“The opportunity to train full-time in a well supported team environment means that you truly can become as good as you possibly could be,” he said. “Without the support of the National Lottery there’s no way this would be possible in a minority Olympic sport.

“GB Canoe Slalom is in a very healthy place and I look forward to watching my current team mates racing in years to come as well as hopefully helping the younger athletes to realise their potential.”

Paying tribute to Baillie, GB Canoeing Performance Director John Anderson MBE said:

“Tim and Etienne are a fantastic pair of ambassadors for our sport, who have gone above and beyond with their time and energy.

“As competitors they were always fiercely competitive and wanted to succeed, but the manner in which they wanted to do so was always in good spirit and good camaraderie with everybody around them.

“And that same spirit is what they have carried into their ambassador roles since winning gold in London.

“I’m obviously disappointed that Tim has decided to retire because I would love to have seen them both carry on to Rio.

“But I’m sure that Tim has made the right decision for himself and the good thing is that he will continue to be a great ambassador for our sport. We wish Tim and his wife Sarah every success and happiness for the future.” —- ICF

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