British Olympic champion and rights campaigner Skinner retires from track


Paris (AFP)

Britain's Callum Skinner, a team sprint Olympic gold medallist, has retired at 26 due to health reasons and will now throw his efforts into promoting athletes' rights.

"I am calling time on my elite cycling career," Skinner said to general surprise on Thursday, just three weeks after becoming one of the leading members of the 'Global Athlete' rights body.

Alongside Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes, Skinner was part of Britain's trio of team sprint gold winners at the Rio Velodrome in 2016, providing the final kick to the line that sealed their razor's edge win over New Zealand.

Skinner, who is dyslexic, also won silver in the Rio individual sprint behind teammate Kenny.

While he won a Commonwealth Games bronze in 2018, his days as an athlete have since been cut short by sickness.

"I have been on an extended break due to my health deteriorating," the Manchester-based Scotsman said on his personal blog.

"I have made incredible progress and I?m pleased to say have almost fully recovered," Skinner said without mentioning his ailment.

"I appreciate that 26 might seem to many quite young to be transitioning away from the track, but I have never considered myself just an athlete," Skinner said.

"My focus and effort now lies in working in partnership with British Cycling to continue to make the athlete experience more human," he explained.

Global Athlete, a non-profit organisation funded by donations, aims to give a greater voice to competitors in Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Skinner spoke last year at an emergency summit at the White House, accusing the International Olympic Committee of letting athletes down by refusing to heed calls for reform.