LYMINGTON'S Ben Ainslie has spoken of his tough decision not to challenge for another gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
But the 35-year-old sailor said he was now focused on his next challenge - to bring the America's Cup to Great Britain for the first time.
His retirement from Olympic sailing was announced this morning after he took time out after his triumph at the London games to consider his future in the sport.
He said: “When I look back there are so many special memories; from that first medal in Atlanta 16 years ago to carrying the flag at the closing ceremony in London 2012.
“London was an incredibly special Olympics, competing on home waters and in front of a home crowd, I don't think anything will be able to top that experience. But you have to move forwards and it is time to move onto the next challenge in my career.”
He said he now wanted to focus on his next challenge as he outlined plans to compete in the 35th America's Cup next year after setting up a team to challenge for the only sporting trophy in the world that Great Britain has never won.
Ben announced that with the backing of sponsors JP Morgan he hopes the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) AC45 team will conquer the historic competition.
But he admitted winning his fifth gold medal at his homes games would be a difficult achievement to top.
He said: “The America's Cup has always been a goal for me. With the new format of the America's Cup World Series and the increased commercialisation of the event, I feel confident that we can continue to build towards creating a commercially viable team, with the ultimate goal of challenging for the 35th America's Cup.”
“Stepping away from the Olympics was not an easy decision to make and I wanted to take some time after London to think about the future and what the next challenge would be.
"I've had an amazing Olympic sailing career and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless number of people who have been involved in my sailing career to date.
"Their support enabled me to achieve my dreams and I could not have done it without them.”
John Derbyshire, Royal Yachting Association Performance Director, said: “Ben has always made it clear that his two career goals have been to win Olympic gold, and to win the America's Cup.
"With four Olympic golds and a silver across five Games, and now the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, he has nothing left to prove in Olympic terms and there can be no question that he's more than achieved his first goal.
"It's therefore entirely understandable that he should now want to turn his attentions to the second, and hopefully lead a British team to win the oldest trophy in sport for the very first time."
It was at the home games he cemented his place in sailing history clinching his fifth gold medal and making him the most successful sailor of all time.
His achievement was celebrated in his adopted home town of Lymington where thousands turned out to cheer him on during an open top bus parade.
The town now also boasts a gold postbox after a local businessman took matters into his own hands and painted it when Royal Mail opted to put the official gold post box in Cornwall where Ben grew up and learnt to sail.
Post bosses in the end relented and allowed the box to remain gold following public support.
The next ten months will see Ainslie train and compete with the America's Cup defenders ORACLE Team USA in San Francisco, where he will gain experience helming one of two AC72s in the build up to the 34th America's Cup in September 2013.
- 2012 - GOLD Olympics Finn class, London
- 2008 - GOLD Olympics Finn class, Beijing
- 2004 - GOLD Olympics Finn class, Athens
- 2000 - GOLD Olympics Laser class, Sydney
- 1996 - SILVER Olympics Laser class, Atlanta
- 2012 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 2008 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 2005 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 2004 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 2003 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 2002 - GOLD Finn World Championships
- 1999 - GOLD Laser World Championships
- 1998 - GOLD Laser World Championships
- 1995 - GOLD ISAF Youth World Championships (Laser class)
- 1993 - GOLD Laser Radial World Championships
- 2008 - GOLD Finn European Championships
- 2005 - GOLD Finn European Championships
- 2003 - GOLD Finn European Championships
- 2002 - GOLD Finn European Championships
- 2000 - GOLD Laser European Championships
- 1999 - GOLD Laser European Championships
- 1998 - GOLD Laser European Championships
- 1996 - GOLD Laser European Championships
- 1993 - GOLD Laser Radial European Championships