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The BBC's Daniela Relph
"A chance to say a public thank you to the people of Marlow"
 real 56k

Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Hero's homecoming for Redgrave
Steve Redgrave
A hero's welcome for Marlow's most famous son
More than 30,000 people have taken to the streets to honour rower Steve Redgrave in his home town of Marlow, in Buckinghamshire.

Crowds braved the cold to cheer Britain's greatest Olympian, who won his record fifth gold medal in Sydney last month.

The father of three, 38, paraded in an open-topped bus, stopping along the way to shake hands with well-wishers.

Matthew Pinsent, Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell
The coxless four's rowing victory in Sydney
He later attended a civic reception with local dignitaries.

The rower, who was born in the town and still lives there, said the turn-out was far bigger than his welcome after the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Then he and his wife, Ann, walked down to the river through the crowds.

"This year there's just so many people here that there's no way to walk through them," he said.

"It is so special. I'm enjoying the moment and enjoying the day. Marlow is very special to me."

'Rather special day'

At the end of the parade, Redgrave got off the bus to meet people in the crowd, occasionally leaning into the throng to hug those he knew personally.

From time to time he responded to shouts for a glimpse of his medal - holding it up to cheers and the flashes of cameras.

He signed dozens of autographs. One woman handed him her pocket diary and Redgrave flipped back through it to 23 September - the day he won his fifth gold - and signed that page.

"That was a rather special day," he told her.

Winning ways

Redgrave won his gold medal alongside Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster and James Cracknell.

He also won the coxed four gold in Los Angeles in 1984 and the coxless pair golds in Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.

Redgrave famously invited people to shoot him if they saw him near a boat after winning gold in Atlanta.

He has said he will not defend his Olympic title at the next games in Athens in 2004 and has insisted that this time he really means it.

Redgrave was awarded the CBE in the New Year's Honours List 1997 for services to rowing, adding to the MBE he received 10 years ago.

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See also:

21 Oct 00 | Photo Galleries
Welcome home Steve - in pictures
14 Oct 00 | Other Sports
Redgrave back with a win
13 Oct 00 | Other Sports
Redgrave back in action
25 Sep 00 | Rowing and Water Sports
Redgrave eyes a rowing revolution
23 Sep 00 | Rowing and Water Sports
Britain salutes rowing hero
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