The 2008 Beijing Olympics
on the BBC
BBC TV team Olympic impressions
Sir Steve Redgrave
Quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower Sir
Steve Redgrave has proved himself the
greatest Olympian Britain has ever produced.
After striking gold in Sydney 2000 he became
our only athlete ever to have won gold
medals at five consecutive Olympic Games.
addition to his Olympic successes, and
following four unbeaten seasons from 1993 to
1996, Steve won his ninth WorldChampionship Gold in August 1999 in St
In 1986 Steve became a
triple Commonwealth gold medallist at
Edinburgh. Together with partner Matthew
Pinsent, Steve was the holder of the World
Record in Coxless Pairs, set in Lucerne in
1994, until 2002 and still retains the Olympic
Record, set in Atlanta in 1996.
Steve was awarded the MBE in the New
Year's Honours List in 1987 and the CBE in
the New Year's Honours List of 1997 and,
following his success in Sydney, was awarded
a Knighthood in the 2001 New Year's
Honours List. The University of Durham also
awarded him an Honorary Degree in
Since retirement in 2000, Steve has built a
new career involving various commercial and
charitable projects. He was part of the BBC's
team for the 2004 Olympic Games.
"For me the Olympics is the ultimate in sport
in many ways. Bringing 28 sports together to
compete for the ultimate within each sport, it
becomes a whole festival of success.
"My own favourite memory is not so much at
the Games – I think it was my return from
Sydney, really. The surprise of what we did as
a four and what I did as an individual, what
response that had from people in the
country; I'm amazed what an impact it made
not just here in the UK but around the world
"Other than my own experiences, I
remember Mark Spitz winning his seven gold
medals at Munich in 1972 – I was 10 at the
time and that's what inspired me, in some
ways, of thinking wouldn't it be fantastic to
stand on an Olympic rostrum once.
"As for this year's Games, I think Beijing will
be really interesting, I think the Chinese
culture is going to make it unique – in some
ways it's the character of the city and the
country that sticks in your mind.
"LA it was all
the razzmatazz, and the Hollywood style;
Seoul I thought was going to be a little bit
more Oriental, more Asian, but the city itself
was just a big concrete jungle, very
Americanised in some ways. Barcelona was all
about regeneration – a place that I knew very
well, we'd trained there for six years leading
up to it so it was like a second home in some
"Atlanta, again we had quite a lot of
travelling to do but the venues really stood
out for me at that one – it had an 18,000-seater grandstand put into pylons in the
water. I've got a picture of our little tiny boat
in front of this grandstand, it's pretty amazing.
"Sydney got near enough everything right,
from the stadiums through to transport and
the Olympic village and the friendliness of
"Athens was more about sitting
on the sidelines for me. I saw more sport in
Athens than I did in my previous five Games
put together. I was involved with the rowing,
same as this time, with the BBC and it was
finished by 10 o'clock in the morning so it
gave me an opportunity to go and see
"It's not going to be quite the same in Beijing
because we're in the afternoon, but I'm really
looking forward to what this Games brings –
because I don't know what it's going to bring.
" I think we're going to be successful in rowing
and the Games is going to have its own
character, and that character will develop as it happens.
"I've been to Shanghai twice on two business
trips for a total of three days so I'm no expert
on China! Looking at the human rights issues,
some people say they should have had more
change before they were given the honour of
having the Olympic games – but I think the
country has opened up a huge amount in the
last eight years since they were awarded the
Games and there has been a lot of change,
and hopefully that change will keep happening.
"They feel, commercially, that they want to be
part of the bigger world; it's easier now to
have holidays there, to sightsee, and I think
that's all directly from the Olympics so I think
it's a good thing – but we all want to see
human rights issues home and abroad to be a
lot more friendly than they are.
"As far as the Games themselves go, our
strongest sports are cycling and sailing. I
won't get to see any sailing because that's too
far away but I really enjoyed the track cycling
four years ago so I'm going to try and see
some of that.
"Athletics is always a good thing
to go and watch; one of the advantages of
having a media pass is you're not fixed as to
where you have to be depending on what
tickets you can get your hands on, so I've got
the flexibility to get along to see whatever
we're doing well at!
"I'm involved with the Team Visa athletes
including Tom Daley, some badminton
players, white-water canoeing, which I've
never seen live before so I want to go and
see Fiona Pennie at that, really just to go and
see as many different things as I can.
years ago I went and saw handball – we don' t
really know very much about it in this
country but it's a great sport to go and watch.
"Looking at where British medals might come
from, I think in rowing we've got a very good
chance of two or three gold medals and I think
we will have six medals in total – we qualified
11 boats so far and 10 of those were fourth
or better so the potential is there.
"And thinking of London 2012 – it's a
homecoming. Traditionally home nations
normally do better than they do travelling
"There's a few reasons for that – the
atmosphere, it feels like your Games, your
entity, you feel a bigger part of it and that can
inspire people to perform better, but also
because there's an eight-year build-up
towards it so there's more funding involved,
"Most of the talk even now, even though
we're just weeks away from Beijing, is about
2012 in this country. Every other country is
focusing on Beijing but because there's that
extra focus by the public, by the Government,
by the athletes, by the financial backers to
those athletes, that makes them more
prepared for those games and that's why they
tend to perform better.
"It would have been absolutely magical to be
able to compete in your home Olympic
Games – the atmosphere will be amazing, to
be on that stage. I'll be 50 and I can't think of
anything better to celebrate my 50th year
than going along to a home Olympic Games."