World champion figure skater Jeffrey Buttle is going out on top, announcing his retirement Wednesday at age 26.

Buttle became the first Canadian to win the men's title since Elvis Stojko in 1997 when he won in March. He also was the bronze medalist at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and is a three-time national champion.

He said he's satisfied with everything he's accomplished in his career, adding it was a tough decision with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"That was definitely the battle that was going on in my mind," Buttle said. "I had to decide was that something that I really wanted? After the world championship, I was so happy with winning that I had to reflect on how important that was to me, and having the Olympics here in Vancouver is important to me, but winning them wasn't.

"It just wasn't in my heart."

The chemical engineering student at the University of Toronto said he plans to continue his studies and participate in some professional skating shows.

"Representing Canada around the world has been an honor and I'm very proud of my achievements as a competitive figure skater," Buttle said. "I've had so much support throughout my career -- I'll be forever grateful to my fans, coaches and, of course, my family."

Among his other achievements, Buttle won gold at the ISU Four Continents Championships in 2002 and 2004. He added silver medals at the ISU Grand Prix finals in 2004 and 2005.

Buttle also won three titles on the Grand Prix circuit, at the 2003 NHK Trophy in Japan, the Cup of China in 2004, and the 2005 Trophee Eric Bompard.

"Jeff has been a leader and ambassador for our sport and country over the years," Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said. "He has embraced his role as a Canadian champion, world champion and Olympian by being a role model for young skaters in Canada and will continue to be involved and support Skate Canada.

"We will miss his wonderful blend of artistry and athleticism and wish him nothing but the best in the future."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-09-10-08 1527EDT

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