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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Clara Hughes, 37, who claimed Olympic bronze on Wednesday in her last race as a speedskater to match the most medals ever won for Canada, is eager to embark on a life of adventure.
"I'm going to buy myself a kayak, an ocean kayak," she told reporters. "My husband (Peter Guzman) has done some amazing ocean trips on the kayak and he's going to teach me. I'm going to go on some adventures with him.
"I just want to be able to live my life in a different way for a little while, and do some great adventures on foot, on the water and on the bike."
Hughes ended her remarkable Olympic career on a high note in the grueling 5,000 meters.
"It was awesome," Hughes said. "That was the best I had, the best race I've ever done in an Olympics including the one I won four years ago. It was such an amazing feeling."
Hughes, who won the 5,000m crown at the 2006 Turin Games, joined skating team mate Cindy Klassen as the most successful Canadian Olympic athlete with six career medals.
"I lived my dream today," Hughes said.
Hughes's extraordinary career spanned four Olympics and two sports, with two of her medals coming as a cyclist at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
The Winnipeg native said the home crowd lifted her up.
"With six laps to go when the race gets really hard, I said to myself, 'Now let this energy in, let this energy move you forward.' Before that I could hear the crowd but wasn't letting it in because I was saving it for when I really needed it."
Hughes, who overcame injuries from a car accident and hiking mishap over the last four years to reach the Vancouver Games, said she expected to feel one regret.
"I think I'm really going to miss feeling this incredibly fit," she said.
"It is something special to actually be able to do this technical sport, and to do it with efficiency and to have your motor running and to have the strength in your legs and your lungs and your heart and your head to execute it. That is something I will miss for the rest of my life."
Editing by Jon Bramley