Olympic gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham has announced his retirement from the sport, just seven months prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The 27-year-old athlete shared the news on Instagram, telling fans it was “official” and that he would now direct his attention towards media and entertainment opportunities.

“I have decided to finally retire after a looooooooong but very rewarding diving career,” he wrote.

“So much gratitude to my long suffering partner Lachlan, Chava, NSWIS, DA, family, friends and all you friends I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet!

“I remember the support I got when I came out before my Olympic debut in 2008 and it helped me to keep sharing my story just as candidly.

“So, it’s Peace Out to my diving career and a big Heeeeeeey to the rest of my media and entertainment and everything else career!”

Mitcham publicly revealed he was gay in 2008 in a Australian newspaper profile of Olympic hopefuls, and shot to fame after winning gold medal for his dive at the 2008 Beijing Games.

His individual score remains the highest in Olympic diving history, while his win made him one of the few openly gay athletes to have ever won the top prize at the Olympics.

His other achievements include a gold medal for his 10m synchro platform at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and a world number one title in 2010.

Away from the pool, Mitcham was recognised as a role model and advocate for the gay community, and was also placed 46th in the Attitude HOT 100 list in 2013.

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Diving Australia chairman Michael Murphy told the ABC that Mitcham could be seen as Australia’s most successful diver.

“He has had his fair share of ups and downs, but he has been a wonderful ambassador for our sport and an inspiration for so many athletes in general, not just divers,” he said.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said Mitcham was “extremely popular” and “a great team man”.

“He was an outstanding role model as an openly gay athlete and inspired so many Australians in and out of the pool.”

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