Rowing: Foster retires to become coach

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The Independent Online

Tim Foster, who helped Steve Redgrave win a record fifth gold medal at the Sydney Olympics last year, has retired from international competition to concentrate on coaching. The two-time world champion has received an "apprentice coach scholarship" from the Amateur Rowing Association.

It is the first such award in a new initiative to help retiring top rowers make the step into high performance coaching and is funded by the Lottery Sports Fund. Foster will be working with the national squad, guided by the chief coach, Jürgen Grobler.

Foster had surgery on his troublesome right knee in September, but although he was given the green light to resume training in early November the 31-year-old has decided to bring the curtain down on a glittering career. "It's been on the cards," he said. "I think my body is trying to tell me something.

"It was a very difficult decision. Rowing has been my life for the last 12 years at least, and it's what I loved doing. I looked forward to getting out on the river. But now I feel I'm better off looking forward and going into coaching rather than putting my body through the strain of the next three years."

Foster has overcome a succession of major injuries during his long and successful career. The University of London squad coach was the first British junior to win two successive World Junior Championship gold medals – first in a coxless four in 1987 and the following year in a coxless pair with Matthew Pinsent. He made his senior debut in 1989, winning a bronze medal in the eight at the World Championships.

Foster had major back surgery for the first time in 1993 and then came back to win the bronze medal in the coxless four – with the Searle brothers and Rupert Obholzer – in the 1996 Olympic Games inAtlanta.

In 1997, Foster won a place in the new coxless four with Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell and won his first senior World Championships gold medal. The following year he suffered a serious hand injury when he tore four tendons and ruptured a blood vessel putting his hand through a window while at a party.

But with the determination that he became known for, Foster regained his place in the crew andwon his second world gold. Thatautumn, however, his back required further major surgery and hisplace in the four in 1999 was taken by Ed Coode.

But still he refused to give in and Foster recovered in time to secure a place in the Great Britain eight and win a silver medal at the World Championships. Coode and Foster then duelled for the place in the four for the Olympic season, and Foster regained his place in the boat before going to land the gold medal in anunforgettable Olympic final inSydney.