James Lawton: Pinsent shows true extent of teamwork

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The Independent Online

Regret that Matthew Pinsent, who is expected to announce formally his retirement today, will not seek to win a fifth Olympic gold - and draw level with his great ally and friend Sir Steve Redgrave - is no doubt an entirely selfish reaction.

Regret that Matthew Pinsent, who is expected to announce formally his retirement today, will not seek to win a fifth Olympic gold - and draw level with his great ally and friend Sir Steve Redgrave - is no doubt an entirely selfish reaction.

The degree of Pinsent's sacrifice for the sake of his rowing career - and his nation's pride - was surely seen to have passed all reasonable levels on that remarkable summer morning in Greece when the great man's body shook with uncontrollable emotion as his crewmates' gave their ragged but unforgettable version of the national anthem.

His decision, we have to suspect, has much to do with another sacrifice, that of his wife Demetra.

When Pinsent broke down - after the Canadians were beaten by one eight-hundredth of a second in what some have described as the greatest Olympic rowing race of all - Demetra ran to the lakeside. She later explained: "I had to run to him because I knew how much this had meant him." She was quick to say that she would not object to a fifth assault on gold in Beijing, Pinsent and his crew of James Cracknell, who has decided to take a year out, Ed Coode and Steve Williams had given us one superb example of teamwork. Now, in his personal life, perhaps Pinsent has offered another.

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