Japanese swimmer Ryosuke Irie, who won three medals at the 2012 London Olympics, announced his retirement Wednesday at a news conference in Tokyo.

The 34-year-old, who appeared in four consecutive Olympic Games in men's backstroke events, had been active on the international stage since 2006.

"I'm truly happy to have been able to enjoy a long career as a competitive swimmer," a tearful Irie said.

The native of Osaka Prefecture was known for his amazing balance and flexible shoulders, which allowed him to swim backstroke without dropping a plastic bottle placed on his forehead.

At the London Games, Irie won silver in the 200-meter backstroke and in the 400-meter medley relay, and clinched the bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke.

He holds the Japanese records for both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke.

The swimmer has been plagued by injuries in recent years. He was unable to clinch a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics at a selection event last month, failing to meet the qualifying standard when finishing second in the 100-meter backstroke, and missing out in the 200-meter race as well.

"While I would've liked to retire at the Paris (Games), I'm glad that I was able to continue swimming for this long," Irie said.