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March 9, 2013
Steve Redgrave, the legendary British rower who won five gold medals at five successive Olympiads, took to the water on Brazil’s Olympic rowing course and revealed he was so impressed with the venue that he might consider coming out of retirement in order to compete in 2016.
Redgrave was smiling as he said it, and it is doubtful that the 50-year-old sporting great will be seen with an oar in his hands when the world descends upon Rio de Janeiro in three years’ time. But Redgrave, a Laureus World Sports Academy Member, was sincere when he praised the rowing basin after joining members of the local Botafogo rowing club in a coxless fours rowing boat.
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, the lake that will host the Olympic rowing, nestles against a spectacular backdrop of soaring cliffs, the Tijuca Forest, and Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. And, as Redgrave pointed out, it is just a short distance from the hotels and beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
After being warmly applauded by 50 Botafogo rowers upon arriving at their clubhouse, in the build-up to the Laureus World Sports Awards in Rio, Redgrave said: “It is a marvellous setting, it is absolutely stunning. The scenery is fantastic. It is very rare that rowing gets to compete in the middle of a city and here in Rio you’ve got that. Spectators are going to love it, and the Olympic rowers are really going to enjoy it.”
Redgrave passed on some expert coaching advice to five rowers working hard on rowing machines perched on a balcony overlooking the lake. Then he accepted an invitation to join the crew of a boat and give a real master class out on water shimmering in the sun.
He admitted afterwards: “I’m very, very unfit these days. It is very rarely that I go out rowing now, so I was pleased I could just get down to the end of the course and back again.
“But I felt very comfortable and I hope the other guys in the boat felt the same. It was certainly nice to be out on the Olympic course. There are not many Olympic courses that I’ve actually rowed on and not won, so maybe I’ll make a comeback in three years’ time!”
In reality, Redgrave is more likely to be found enjoying the best that Brazil has to offer in 2016. He said: “I think there will be a great party atmosphere and great excitement. We all know about the carnivals and Brazilian culture from that point of view.
“I think Rio will do a fantastic job. Many people said London was the best Olympic Games there have ever been. I’m going to be biased and agree on that because, obviously, it is where I’m from and I was involved with the Organising Committee.
“The London Games is a very tough act to follow but I’m sure Rio will do it their way, in a different way, and it will be very special. That is the advantage of the Games. It is not just about putting on a sporting event with all the different competitive disciplines. It is about living with the culture and building up the excitement of the Games. We certainly enjoyed that with the London Games, and I’m sure Rio will do the same.”