Olympic Games - London 2012

Redgrave predicts record haul

British Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave is predicting a record haul of more than 10 men's rowing medals at the London 2012 Games after their dominance at last month's World Championships.

Redgrave predicts record - Olympic Games - London 2012Eurosport

Redgrave, who won gold medals in five consecutive Games, is regarded as Britain’s greatest Olympian, but he feels that Team GB is far stronger now than when his crews dominated world rowing.

"What people don’t realise it that the team that we had in (the 2008 Beijing Games), and the team we have now for London, are even better than the teams I was involved with," Redgrave told Eurosport in London.

"They (the men's team) are head and shoulders above the rest of the world. We won three medals in Sydney and that was seen as being incredible, for the team and the country; in Bejiing we won six medals - two golds, two silvers, two bronzes; at the World Championships in Sydney this year we won 10 medals, against the same people we’ll be competing with at the Olympics. And we felt we could have won more!

"We’re going to extend at. The best Olympics we ever had as far as rowing is concerned was when we hosted the Games in 1908 - then we won eight medals, and those were in the days when nations were allowed multiple entries into events. We won four golds - plus three silvers and a bronze mostly in events we had won.

"Now we have one entry in each event and realistically we can expect to better that medal haul, and probably do better than we did at the World Championships."

Britain’s success is helped by a cultural interest in the sport - particularly around the Thames region - and a relatively large pool of natural talent.

But Redgrave believes that, much like in cycling, superior organisation is what sets the current team apart from their peers, and other British sports teams.

The 49-year-old puts that down to patience and consistency in management.

"I think it’s a sport that traditionally we’ve don really well in at the Olympics over the years," he added. "We went through a poor patch from 1948 to 1984 where we were less competitive: we may have been in the hunt for medals, but not necessarily gold medals.

"The thing that has made us really strong is consistency. The team manager (David Tanner) has been around for a long time (as team manager from 1991 and then performance director from 1996).

"He is a former coach having trained the team at the Moscow Games and won a bronze medal. He maybe wasn’t the best coach that the world has ever seen but he’s one of the best organisers.

"And now he’s in charge of rowing as a whole he has been able to apply the way he managed that one crew to the whole team.

"By being in that role for a period of time he has improved and organised our chief coaches, who have also been around for a long time now. We have a steady flow of talent coming into the team but it’s the back-up staff who bring the best out of that talent."

However one views the crop of current talent - who are set to clean-up in London - Redgrave is set to go down as the greatest of all time, simply because no-one can expect to match his longevity.

Born in Marlow, he burst on to the international scene as a raw teenager and won his first Olympic gold aged 22, at the Los Angeles Games in 1984: his last came in Sydney, 16 years later.

With rowing being one of the most overtly physical sports at the Olympics, Redgrave admits that his final years were marked by his superior mental condition.

"My mental approach changed significantly as I got older. I was on the circuit for a very long time - 25 years, and 21 years at the elite level of competition. I had this raw talent when I was younger which put me at the top end of ability at the time, which allowed me to get through and win on sheer brute force and determination.

"But then over the years the standard inevitably rises and people put pressure on you - to stay at the top you have to develop in other ways. The older you get, the less raw and youthful you are: you need to be mentally stronger and tougher.

"And with the disabilities I had - coming down with colitis 10 weeks before Barcelona, being diagnosed with diabetes three years before Sydney, my performance was hampered by that.

"You need to make up for it somehow and the one thing I never wanted was to come out of a Games thinking ‘oh if I’d done this or done that I could have done better’.

"I wanted to come out of the Games saying I had come out having done everything I could mentally, physically, and in terms of my preparation. I wanted to know that, even if I lost, I had done everything I can and I could live with losing in that situation.

"What I couldn’t live with was coming out and thinking ‘if I’d done an extra training session’, or if I was that little bit more switched on, or I knew more about my opposition, I could have done better.

"That would really, really bug me."

Sir Steve Redgrave was talking at a media briefing event in London on behalf of Prestige Ticketing Limited, the exclusive in-venue hospitality partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. For more information visit www.prestigeticketing.london2012.com

 - Eurosport
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