Liam Heath: Great Britain’s most successful Olympic canoeist retires


Liam Heath
Liam Heath won K1 200m bronze in Tokyo last summer

Liam Heath – Great Britain’s most successful Olympic canoeist – says it is “time to move on” after announcing his retirement from the sport.

Heath won four Olympic sprint canoe medals from three Games, including K1 200m gold at Rio 2016.

The 37-year-old is also a two-time world and five-time European champion.

“I’ve done everything I set out to do and more,” Heath told BBC Sport. “I’ve gone way and above what I thought I could achieve in the sport.”

He added: “I’ve ticked pretty much every box on the list that any athlete would want to tick.

“I definitely think and feel it’s time to move on as a competitor.”

Heath won his first Olympic medal on home waters at London 2012, winning K2 200m bronze alongside Jon Schofield.

Four years later in Rio the pair upgraded to silver, with Heath winning the individual event, and in Tokyo last year he won K1 bronze.

In 2017, he completed the canoe sprint grand slam of holding the Olympic, world and European titles.

“It has been a hard decision. There’s obviously a bit of conflict because it’s all you’ve known and done for such a long time,” he said.

“It was a pretty tricky decision but I’ve always said it’s a family decision, something I’ve made with not just me in mind, but my family, my wife and my two kids.

“It was tricky but easy in a certain way to be able to say I’m finished, and now I can hang up my paddles and move on to my future career.”

Heath, who has a degree in industrial design and technology, is currently “exploring creative areas” as he settles on his next career path, but hopes to keep his “foot in the door” with canoeing and give back to the younger generation of paddlers.

But with little more than two years to go until the next Olympics in Paris, did he consider hanging on for just a bit longer?

“A small amount of me wanted to see what it would be like to compete in Paris, but having gone through three cycles already, I know the kind of commitment and dedication it takes, and that added to my decision to want to step back from competing and spend more time with my family,” he said.

“Even though it’s just around the corner, it seems like a long way away for me.”


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