Barry Davies' Olympic Moments: Steve Redgrave's fifth gold

Steve Redgrave

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Davies on Redgrave's fifth gold

In a 10-part series, BBC broadcaster Barry Davies recalls the most memorable Olympic moments of his 44 years on air from the Games.

I remember Sydney 2000 as the greatest Olympic Games I have ever attended.

While there, I was very lucky to go down to Penrith, home of the Olympic rowing events, as a spectator.

I had been hopeful before the Games of being added to the rowing commentary team as I had done quite a few boat races by then.

But that did not come to pass, so I took myself to the venue and joined the crowd.

What followed was a marvellous performance which, from my position, looked as though it would end in anticlimax.

The highlight of these Games for the British team was always going to be the men's coxless four rowing, and whether Steve Redgrave could win his fifth Olympic gold medal.

This was the man who, four years earlier, had invited people to shoot him if he was ever seen getting back in a boat. He was now going to attempt something which had never been achieved in the sort of physically demanding sport that rowing both was and is.

This time, there were doubts about the four. They had been unbeatable since 1997 but had lost their most-recent race, finishing fourth at the World Cup in Lucerne.

The three countries ahead of them in that race were all in this final, on either side of the British boat.

I took up a position about 30m from the finish and watched as the British boat put on an initial spurt, earlier than we had expected.

The Italians and Australians began to press them, and it was clear they needed another push. As the Italians came past me in lane five, I was sure the Italians were going to win.

It is possibly a good job I wasn't involved in the commentary. The finish was electric and the British had a second push, up from 40 to 44 strokes per minute. They crossed the line victorious and I would have got it wrong.

Never have I been more happy to be wrong, too. Here was quite a senior gentleman now, in sporting terms, winning his fifth gold medal having had all his problems with diabetes and colitis. It was an amazing performance, borne of a doubt before the Games which dissipated.

Steve Redgrave has got to be in my top three British Olympians of all time, and Sydney was everything he would have wished for.

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