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The river has always been part of our society here. My father and my father’s father – my grandfather – have all been brought up in the area.
But nobody got on the river before I did.
Certainly on a morning like this it’s sort of, err, so idyllic, fantastic.
This is how I started sort of 30 years ago. I just loved it, it was sort of escapism in some ways, umm, it’s just magical.
That’s nice rhythm, that’s nice control.
I went to a school just on the other side of Marlow, and er, the head of the English department, a guy called Francis Smith, he was actually captain of Marlow Rowing Club, and he just asked a few individuals if they would like to give rowing a go, and I thought, well, getting out of … getting out of school and going out on the river during school time, that seems pretty sensible, and after a couple of months Francis said “Well, would you like to go and do a race, and I thought, oo, a race, that sounds … that’s pretty fun, and we went down to Bristol and did a race down there, not really expecting anything, and we ended up winning it. And I suppose that sort of shaped my career in some ways, from that, that, those first few months, and that first race.
Success breeds success. Your dreams start getting built by, by other people’s sort of views, umm, and in some ways that was a great motivating factor as being a … a youngster at that time. But it also had its downfalls as well, because you have your sort of belief as that oo, one day I am going to be World Champion, I wonder which year that is going to be, and the fact is, is that you have to make it happen.
So we’d be training 3, sometimes 4, training sessions in a day, that’s 20 kilometres a training session … and that’s the 49 weeks a year … so, when you’re plying up and down on the river your feeling is “This is horrible, I don’t want to be doing this, but I’ve got to do this for the race that we’re doing.”
United States … Slovenia … Great Britain …
Most of the sports that are around have been started by Brits. We start it off and then everybody picks it up, and then does it better than we do. I think in some ways British people have had a problem over a long period of time, a thing, oh no, no, we’re British, we … we’ve got to do it as very much amateurs, and it was about having a good fight, but it wasn’t about winning. But, ah, I think over the last few decades that has slowly changed.
It’s not a bad thing to be British, and to be a winner – that’s a good thing.
We welcome Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is presenting Mr Steve Redgrave, OBE, with a gold Olympic pin to acknowledge his fifth gold medal, a record in a …
I think we’ve become very happy within our own skins, because it’s not embarrassing to go out and win races, or even to say that you’re the best in the field in this particular, err, area, and I think that we’ve been able to accept that as a nation in some ways, and certainly moving towards twenty twelve and having the greatest sporting event coming to our country, there is an expectation that we don’t just want to put on a fantastic Games, but we want our athletes to do well as well, and to win some gold medals.
I was asked to be helping out on the bid process, and I just, it just wasn’t, I didn’t even have to give it a thought, it was something of being able to hand something down to the next generation.
And that’s the Aquatic over there, isn’t it?
When the bid … suggested in the UK that we were going to bid for the Games, there were people saying “No, we’re never going to get it”. (In) less than 3 years they’ll be opening the doors, people will be sitting in these seats, watching the athletes doing their bit down there, ah, I just, I just find that incredible in some ways, of, of, of so many people put so much effort into it, but it’s going to happen, it’s going to succeed, and it’s going to be really very very special to be here.
I’d really love to be able to compete in these Games, ah, as a 50-year-old I think I’d probably be struggling a little bit, but it will certainly be a very proud day from those humble beginnings of, of getting out in a boat, to seeing the Opening Ceremony, seeing the flame lit. I’m going to one proud British guy, there’s no doubt about that.