Steve Redgrave – Is The Five-Time Olympic Rowing Champion Your Sporting Hero?
Today, we continue our “sporting heroes” series, by taking a look at the achievements of one of Britain’s most famous rowers – Sir Steve Redgrave. The winner of five Olympic gold medals, as well as a host of World Championship titles, Steve is often referred to as the nation’s greatest rower of all-time.
Steve Redgrave – The Start of His Rowing Career
Born in the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow, in 1962, Steven Geoffrey Redgrave took up rowing while he was a pupil at Great Marlow Secondary Modern School. One of his teachers, Francis Smith, invited him to join the school’s rowing club.
“He chose me because I had big hands and feet and so was liable to become a big person,” Steve said, in an interview with the Independent in 2009. “If it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t have got near a boat.”
Smith’s instincts about him proved to be correct and Steve went on to have a glittering rowing career. He didn’t just represent his country as a rower though – in 1989/90, he was also part of the British bobsleigh team.
Medals and Trophies Galore – World Championship and Henley Royal Regatta Success
Steve Redgrave claimed his first medal on the water for Great Britain in 1980; he and Adam Clift finished second in the double sculls at the World Rowing Junior Championships.
The following year, he competed in the senior championships for the first time, as part of the quadruple sculls team which finished in eighth place. He and Eric Sims also won the Double Sculls Challenge Cup at Henley that year. Redgrave became a regular competitor at both Henley and the World Rowing Championships after that.
He won his first Double Sculls Challenge Cup at Henley in 1981, and triumphed again the following year. In subsequent years, he won the Diamond Challenge Cup twice, the Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup seven times, and the Stewards’ Challenge Cup on five occasions. In 2001, he won his last rowing trophy at Henley: the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.
Steve Redgrave claimed his first medal at the World Rowing Championships in 1986, when he, Andy Holmes and Patrick Sweeney won the coxed pair event. He won a further eight World Championship titles, as well as two silver medals and a bronze medal at the competition during his career.
Sir Steve Redgrave – Achievements at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games
In 1984, Redgrave travelled to Los Angeles to participate in his first Summer Olympics, where he competed in the coxed fours. He and his other teammates – Richard Budgett, Andy Holmes, Martin Cross, and Adrian Ellison (coxswain) – secured the gold medal in the event.
In 1986, Steve won gold medals in the single sculls, coxed fours and coxless pairs at the Commonwealth Games. He made it into the sporting history books in the process, by becoming the first rower ever to have won three golds at a single edition of the Games.
1988 saw Redgrave seize his second Olympic title, when he and Andy Holmes were first across the line in the final of the coxless pairs in Seoul. They were also part of the bronze medal-winning coxed pair team.
Steve made history again in 1992, by becoming the first British sportsperson to have won golds at three consecutive Summer Olympics, when he and Matthew Pinsent won the coxless pairs in Barcelona. What made this achievement even more remarkable is that, while training for the event, Steve fell ill and was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, ulcerative colitis.
Despite his condition, he continued training and, in 1996, he headed to Atlanta to take part in his fourth Olympics. He and Matthew Pinsent successfully defended their coxless pair title, securing Steve a fourth Olympic gold medal. After the race, he famously said that anyone who saw him near a boat again had his permission to shoot him.
However, Steve was not done with rowing yet. Four years later, he competed in the Olympics yet again, as part of a coxless four team that also included James Cracknell, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent. They won the title and Steve went home from Sydney with a record-breaking fifth Olympic gold
Steve retired from the sport after that. However, he later admitted to the Telegraph that he had discussed the possibility of making a comeback in the run-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics. The British team’s head coach, Jürgen Gröbler, advised him not to. “It was probably right,” Steve said.
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