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It was one of the enduring sights of the 2008 Olympics: Katherine Grainger, who had just become the first British woman in any sport to have won medals at three successive Games, distraught and crying her eyes out on the podium.

And it now promises to be one of the stories of London 2012 as Grainger has decided to keep on training until the age of 36 in the hope of finally winning gold.

Think Steve Redgrave - after battles with diabetes and colitis - slumped over his blade in relief in Sydney having won his fifth Olympic title.

Think Matthew Pinsent's tears in Athens after his crew overcame losing a team-member to injury at the last minute to win a heart-stopping final and he gained his fourth gold.

Grainger's story may have been less celebrated so far because she has never taken the top step on the podium but it gains even more significance now as she tries once again to do so.

Continue reading "Grainger begins new Olympic rowing epic"


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Andy Hodge has a neat way of summing his next mission up. "It's all about building on this," he says pointing to his pocket. In it is his first Olympic gold medal.

Hodge isn't just talking about a plan to aim to repeat the feats of the Great Britain coxless four in London in four years' time. He's also alluding to the plans the wider rowing world has in place to build on the success of Beijing. But more of that later.

Many of the rest of the 23 British rowers who came back from Beijing with medals have got some thinking to do over the next few months. Do they want to go through another punishing four years to compete in front of a home crowd in 2012?

Continue reading "What now for Olympic rowers?"



The training needed in pursuit of an Olympic rowing gold is brutal but one group have approached it with grins on their faces, and they may just have produced the viral hit of the 2008 Games along the way.

In an homage to the British squaddies whose "Show me the Way to Armadillo" became a YouTube hit (and also crashed MoD computers) the Great Britain men's eight have bandied together to bash out Frank Sinatra's "My Way".

Have a look and see what you think. (And watch out for the dodgy language at the start).

Continue reading "GB rowers do it their way"



Alan Campbell's nickname may be "Monkey" but that has more to do with his physique than a reference to the missing link he provides to what I reckon is the most exciting period in rowing's history.

It is not all about public schools and Oxbridge colleges, although they dominated the sport for the second half of the last century and their influence is still very strong.

Campbell will compete for Britain in the single scull, an event that can trace its popularity further back than football, standing alongside boxing in the 19th Century at the heart of popular sport.

Continue reading "Campbell provides rowing's missing link"



The biggest news from the announcement of Great Britain's rowing squad for the Olympics was that there was no news.

The injuries and illness that have hit the squad over the last few months have by and large been overcome and a squad of 43 British rowers (more than any Olympics since 1992, after which a quota system was introduced) will compete in 12 boats from 9 August.

So instead of news there were questions. Will Kath Grainger - at her third Games - become one of the first British women rowers to win gold? How will the men's coxless four fare after an injury-hit season? Are Great Britain on course for their target of four Olympic medals? And just which boat is Britain's best bet for gold?

Continue reading "Olympic rowers still face big questions"



At least two of Britain's gold medal hopes for Beijing started out in completely different sports and you could follow their path to glory in 2012!

Of course it's not as easy as that but the UK's sporting authorities are keen to open up a new route to the top of the Olympic podium.

Fresh on the heels of Sporting Giants and Pitch2Podium comes Girls4Gold, a mass recruitment drive for young women as another plank in Team GB's aim to finish fourth in the medal table in London in four years' time.

This isn't about finding people who are good at their chosen sport and pushing them to the top. It's about finding people who are already good at one sport but might be better at another.

Continue reading "New routes to Olympic success"



Clockwise from top left - lightweight double, coxless four from Munich, sculler Alan Campbell, women's quad, openweight double

Great Britain's top men's crew, the coxless four, is in turmoil, but then what did you expect in Olympic year?

And why are we still focusing on the four when there are as many as nine crews in contention for gold in Beijing?

All of them will be looking to further cement their credentials as the international season steps up a gear with the second World Cup regatta in Lucerne this weekend.

Continue reading "Look past the four in Lucerne"



For someone who has grown tired of reading the same clich├ęs from major sportsmen and women, getting involved with BBC Sport's Olympic "Brits to Watch" has been a breath of fresh air.

Most of those involved in Olympic sports are strangers to the limelight so they are far more willing to talk about their day-to-day experiences than those who have to face media and fan scrutiny every week.

Leading British sportsmen and women from almost all of the 28 Olympic sports have this year been contributing to the BBC's 606 website.

And the results are a long way from "taking each game as it comes" or "getting my head down and working hard with the rest of the lads".

Continue reading "Athlete diaries a break from the old routine"



Great Britain's top crews train daily at the Redgrave and Pinsent Rowing Lake - a suitable indication of the influence Sir Stephen and Sir Matthew have had on the sport.

Redgrave - who paid a visit this week with the BBC cameras - won five Olympic golds between 1984 and 2000, three with Pinsent, who gained his fourth in Athens four years ago.

Many of those who gathered at RPRL in Caversham, near Reading, this week for the announcement of the crews forming the basis of this year's assault on Beijing, took up the sport after being inspired by the duo.

Continue reading "Rowing steps out of two sizeable shadows"



Cricket has not been a part of the Olympics for the last 108 years. Thankfully, the other sport I follow is one in which Great Britain have enjoyed plenty of success.

I've been working for BBC Sport since 2001, travelling to South Africa for the Cricket World Cup in 2003, to the Caribbean for last year's competition - including a fortnight in Guyana which I'd rather not go into again - and plenty of England matches at home in between.

But my great passion is rowing, a passion that my mum tells me began at the age of three, when I watched on TV as Cambridge sank in the 1978 Boat Race. That summer, I had my first chance to sink when I took a ride in the cox's seat with my dad's crew.

Watching those at the highest level, rowing highlights for me include the Searle brothers' victory in the Barcelona Olympics of 1992 (and cox Garry Herbert's subsequent waterworks), witnessing - while on holiday in France - Steve Redgrave's return to the four at the 1997 World Championships, and sitting in a room full of screaming rowers to watch that crew's triumph in Sydney three years later.

My own rowing achievements are decidedly further down the scale, with the best of the worst an unsuccessful first-round appearance at Henley Royal Regatta several years ago.

Since then I have concluded that while those who can, do, those who can't, coach, so can be found most weekends in a motor launch on the River Thames, telling other people how to do it.

During the week I am part of the team responsible for running the BBC website's Olympics and Olympic sport pages as well as this blog.


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