Three-time Olympic champion rower James Tomkins retires

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's three-time Olympic champion James Tomkins, a member of the 'Oarsome Foursome', announced his retirement from competitive rowing on Thursday, his 45th birthday.

He won his third gold in the men's pair at Athens in 2004. He had won bronze in the event in Sydney in 2000.

Tomkins, who carried his country's flag at the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Games, was a member of the Australian eight, who finished sixth in the Chinese capital.

"The impact he has made in Australian rowing is underlined by the reaction of young guys who are involved in the team now.

"Some of them were not born when James started rowing, but they admire his achievements and aspire to reach his level."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom)