Five-time Olympian Frances Houghton announces her retirement from rowing

Frances Houghton won three Olympic silver medals in five appearances at the Games, as well as four World Championship titles in her glittering career

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Frances Houghton - third from the left (Intersport Images)

Three-time Olympic silver medallist Frances Houghton has decided to call time on her glittering career, which has spanned 16 years at the senior level.

Along with the silvers won at the Athens, Beijing and Rio Olympic Games, Houghton was part of four World Championships winning crews in the quadruple sculls.

At Rio 2016, Houghton was part of the crew who delivered Britain’s first ever women’s eight Olympic medal, finishing second behind the USA.

“Having achieved my goal of going to five Olympic Games, this is the right time for me to retire,” she said.

“To row at an elite level was my dream since the age of 11, and winning silver in Rio with such an inspiring, fun and motivated team was the perfect end.”

Houghton first joined the Great Britain junior squad in 1995, winning a World Junior Championships bronze in 1998 with Debbie Flood. A year later she took gold in the World U23 Championships, again with Flood.

Making her Olympic debut at Sydney 2000, Houghton finished ninth in the double sculls with Sarah Winckless. Four years later she was on the podium in Athens with a silver in the quadruple sculls – an event she enjoyed great success in.

Teaming up with Winckless, Rebecca Romero and Katherine Grainger she won her first senior World Championships gold in Gifu in 2005. Flood replaced Romero for the win at Eton in 2006 and later Annie Vernon came in for Winckless to complete the hat-trick in Munich in 2007.

The crew couldn’t keep their golden run going at Beijing 2008, finishing second to the Chinese crew. In 2010, Houghton, Flood, Vernon and Beth Rodford won gold again in Karapiro.

A switch from sculling to sweep in 2016 saw her join the women’s eight; winning the European Championships and finishing second at the Olympics.

In November, Houghton was named female Olympian of the Year at the GB Rowing Team dinner at Twickenham.

She added: “I have been fortunate to row with so many incredible people throughout my career, with whom I share many great memories and they all made the hard work worth every moment.

“My greatest debts of gratitude go to my mother (Andrea), sister (Joanna) and fiancé (Steve), without whose support, understanding and endless encouragement this year following the passing of my father (who came to almost every race I entered for 25 years) just a few weeks before the Games, I would not have been in Rio at all.

“I look forward to watching the next generation of rowers going from strength to strength. I hope they enjoy the sport as much as I have!”

Sir David Tanner, Performance Director at British Rowing, said: “We all wish Frances well in retirement after what has been a remarkable career. To perform at the highest level of the sport for 16 years covering five Olympic Games is an incredible achievement. With her World medals as a Junior and then Under 23, she was a trail-blazer for young female rowers, as well as laying a great base for her senior career .

“Frances has been a role model to the future generation of British rowers and a crew-maker for her peers and her experience and presence within the Olympic squad will be sorely missed.”