OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Rowing: Redgrave turns on the power

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MATTHEW Pinsent and Steven Redgrave became Olympic rowing champions in the coxless pair by deploying the greatest physical strength in the most efficient way, and made certain of it by cutting out all probable error.

Pinsent and Redgrave went to the start as the crew to beat, as reigning world champions, and as fastest in the heats and semi- finals. After the flurry of power from the others off the start, they took the lead at one minute and were one length ahead after two minutes. From that moment onwards they had to race against the watch and to avoid mistakes that would interrupt the flow.

As the crews entered the last 250 metres both the Slovenes and Germans closed on Britain. Redgrave and Pinsent were moving their boat with sublime efficiency.

On Redgrave's call each snapped on the power of the outside shoulder at the catch of the next stroke and their boat leapt forward opening up the gap instantly. It is this acceleration from speed which puts the British pair ahead of any other exponents of the art.

Their command was total and there is no dispute that if they had been pushed harder for longer, they would have reduced the time for the event by three seconds or more. As it was, they lowered the Olympic mark by seven.

With Redgrave at 100 kgs and Pinsent at 98 kgs and each composed of exactly the right mixture of fast and slow twitch muscle fibre they are perfectly suited to the power events in rowing and would probably be able to improve the standard of the coxed pair, as the Searles did.

If the selection process had not been interupted by Jonny Searle's cracked rib and by Redgrave's colitis, the two pairs might easily have been better placed in the other event.

Pinsent will not have to consider his best option for next year while he concentrates on taking Oxford - where he is president of the Boat Club - to their seventh Boat Race win in succession.

He will try to woo his pairs coach Jurgen Grobler from his Leander Club employers for long enough to set the Dark Blue programme and to spend some time coaching. 'He's not hard to tempt,' Pinsent said. 'He loves going out in a Big Cigar launch and watching the lads sweat.'

Redgrave could help, but he may be too busy looking for sponsorship to take them on through the next four-year cycle of training and racing. With three successive gold medals now tucked under his belt, a feat matched by only two other British Olympians, he may also be entitled to spend some time resting on his laurels.

(Photograph omitted)