SYDNEY (Reuters) - Injury-hit Olympic champion Duncan Free has reluctantly admitted defeat in his heroic bid to row for Australia in a fifth Games.
The 39-year-old battled back into contention for a London berth despite being hit by a car in May last year, an accident which left him with a shattered femur and one leg 2.6cm shorter than the other.
He suffered another major setback in February when he fractured a rib and, despite getting back into the boat, conceded he had run out of time after struggling at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland last week.
"The decision was tough and I'm extremely disappointed," he said.
"I am quite proud that I was able to come back from the accident and trial for the Olympic team, as 12 months ago I was unsure if I would ever be able to row again.
"I gave it my best crack and hung in there for as long as I could, but the body couldn't keep up as we were running out of time."
Free won gold in the men's pairs with Drew Ginn at the Beijing Games four years ago and a bronze in quadruple sculls at his first Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien)