By Mike Rowbottom

Tony Estanguet crossing the line at London 2012 July 31 2012December 1 - Tony Estanguet, France's three-times Olympic canoeing gold medallist recently controversially appointed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission, has announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 34.

"I put my boat away. Retired at 34! Thanks to my family, my sponsors and to you all for this nice story," Estanguet wrote on his Twitter account.

At this year's London Olympics, Estanguet became the first French athlete to win three Olympic titles in the same discipline – the C1 slalom event - after claiming victories at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Games.

Although Estanguet only finished ninth at the 2008 Beijing Games, he had the honour there of being the French flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

Estanguet also won 12 World Championship medals starting from 1999, including five golds.

His elder brother, Patrice, won a bronze medal in canoeing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Their father, Henri, won medals at the Wildwater Canoe World Championships in the 1970s.

Estanguet was voted onto the IOC Athletes' Commission at London 2012 but it is currently shrouded in controversy because he picked up one of the places vacated by Japanese hammer-thrower Koji Murofushi and Chinese Taipei's taekwondo player Mu-yen Chu after they were disqualified for alleged election breaches.

Both athletes have appealed against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) with their cases expected to be heard early next year. 

Tony Estanguet with three gold medals November 29 2012Tony Estanguet poses with his three Olympic gold medals after announcing his retirement

Estanguet admitted that he had planned to retire after Beijing four years ago if he had won a third consecutive title. 

But his failure there persuaded him to carry on and he promised himself that he would not allow himself to be distracted in the same way before London 2012.

"Before London, I vowed not to make a decision before the end of the competition," he said.

"All this is part of my history.

"At 22 years old, being Olympic champion [in Sydney] was a great story. 

"At Athens to retain my title was magical.

"Even Beijing, it was important.

"I did not want to spit because thanks to it, I lived more than a victory.

"After the failure of Beijing I learned to navigate differently.

"I've learned to be open, to grow.

"Therefore the third title [in London] means a lot."

Estanguet hopes the confusion over the IOC Athletes Commission election will not prevent him becoming a member.

"It would be a good way to keep in touch with the Olympic family and to continue this adventure," he said.

"Because I think my life will be forever marked by the Games."

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