Guan Chenchen of China won balance beam gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Getty Images

Olympic balance beam champion Guan Chenchen has retired from gymnastics at the age of 18, and is set to study at Zhejiang University.

Chinese state media outlet Shanghai Daily has confirmed that Guan officially stepped away from the sport and has enrolled at the institution in Hangzhou.

Having contributed to a women's team silver for China at the 2019 Junior World Championships, Guan produced a sublime performance at last year's delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics to take the balance beam title.

Then aged 16, Guan scored 14.633 points to lead a Chinese one-two ahead of Tang Xijing, while the United States' Simone Biles finished third.

Guan is one of four reigning Olympic and world champions missing from China's team at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool.

Guan Chenchen led a Chinese one-two in the balance beam event at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Guan Chenchen led a Chinese one-two in the balance beam event at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Rings Olympic champion Liu Yang is absent due to surgery as well as the rings world champion Lan Xingyu.

Parallel bars and horizontal bars world champion Hu Xuwei is also among China's notable absentees.

Earlier this year, Guan had appeared in a video message expressing support for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, a multi-sport event ultimately delayed by one year due to COVID-19 restrictions in China.

Guan has not competed at an International Gymnastics Federation event since Tokyo 2020, with China largely absent from international competitions in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.