London

Tributes paid to Olympic rowing champion Andy Holmes

Andy Holmes (left) and Steve Redgrave (right)
Image caption Andy Holmes (left) and Steven Redgrave (right) won gold medals at the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988

Family, friends and Olympic champions have gathered to pay their last respects to double Olympic rowing champion Andy Holmes.

The 51-year-old, who rowed twice with Steve Redgrave to Olympic triumph, died suddenly last month.

He is believed to have died from the bacterial infection Weil's disease

The memorial at his old school in Hammersmith, west London, heard he returned to rowing after a 17-year break to teach at its grassroots.

Martin Cross, who won gold with Holmes at the 1984 Olympics, told the packed two-hour memorial at Latymer Upper School on Saturday: "He would turn up late for sessions because he was working on the fitness side and I do not think that in the early days people knew or realised how brilliant or focused he was."

This dedication and hard work ethic along with the belief that he, and other British rowers, could beat the seemingly-invincible East German crews and one day dominate their discipline, is part of the legacy that Holmes has left British rowing, according to Cross.

Holmes was part of the coxed four crew, which included Sir Steve Redgrave, that won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

He then partnered Redgrave to gold in the coxless pairs at the Games in Seoul four years later.

He was said to be in superb physical condition, but became unwell after competing in a 32-mile sculling marathon in Lincolnshire.

Holmes suffered a severe reaction to some kind of infection and died in October.

At the memorial speeches were filled with memories of Holmes's life - from a talented schoolboy rower, to double Olympic champion, family man, athlete-turned-removal firm owner before he returned to grassroots rowing as a coach.

Holmes's first wife Pam said: "His love for his family is a bond that is strong, that will last forever even though he is gone."

A private family cremation was held in the past weeks.

Holmes had four children with his first wife Pam and a daughter with his second wife Gabrielle.

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