03:15PM, Thursday 19 January 2017
Paralympic star Tom Aggar has announced his retirement from international rowing, having represented Great Britain for 10 years.
Maidenhead resident Aggar was the first Paralympic gold medallist in the arms-shoulders single scull when he crossed the line first at Beijing 2008 and took his second medal, a bronze, at Rio 2016 last September.
The 32-year-old bows out as one of Britain’s best para-rowers, with four World Championship gold medals to his name, as well as two silvers, and a bronze at the 2015 Word Cup regatta in Varese.
“As I look back on nearly a decade of dedicating myself to the sport of rowing it is hard to forget how it all started,” he said.
“Being told you will never walk again was a hard pill to swallow, and afterwards I felt I had something to prove. Rowing quickly became a huge part of my life and has shaped my life in so many ways.
“Along that journey of pushing the boundaries of what I thought possible, I feel I’ve been very fortunate to have been supported by a great team of people at British Rowing all committed to helping me achieve my full potential.”
Having been injured in an accident while studying at the University of Warwick, Aggar took up para-rowing in 2006 as part of his rehabilitation.
Just a year later the Marlow Rowing Club member won his first World Championships gold in Munich, beating Australia’s Dominic Monypenny by more than a second.
Olympic gold was not far away, with Aggar rowing to victory in Beijing over Oleksandr Petrenko (Ukraine) and Eli Nawi (Israel) the following year.
Aggar’s golden streak continued in the run up to the London 2012 Games, with Worlds wins in Poznan (2009), Karapiro (2010) and Bled (2011), but he couldn’t keep the streak going, finishing fourth in the Paralympics.
He finished second to Australia’s Erik Horrie in both the 2014 and 2015 World Championships before winning a fantastic Olympic bronze medal in Rio 2016 to round off his remarkable career.
“During my time in the sport I also met my wife [Paralympic athlete Vicky Hansford] with whom I have two small boys.
“Since her retirement from the sport she has been a constant source of support, along with my mum and dad, who have travelled to almost every major competition.
“I will miss being alongside the rest of the team as they continue pushing themselves on towards Tokyo and the daily challenges that brings, as well as being part of something wider – the Paralympic movement which is continually challenging the perception of disability and what is possible following a life-changing injury.”
Aggar has started a job with pharmaceutical and healthcare company PRA Health Sciences.
The UK has voted to leave the European Union in yesterday's referendum - and while the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead fell into the remain camp, Slough voted to support a Brexit.