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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 14:03 GMT
Book review: Redgrave the rower
Ann and Steve Redgrave
Redgrave's wife Ann is a central figure in the story
BBC Sport Online's Chris Russell says Steve Redgrave's autobiography should appeal to real rowing fans as well as less knowledgeable observers.

Anyone tackling Steve Redgrave's autobiography should be ready to learn plenty about the past 20 years of one of Britain's less well-reported sports.

The five-times Olympic gold medallist's book leaves no stone unturned as it chronicles his own career at the top over the past two decades.

Unlike many sports biographies, this is not a book that you will be able to read on Christmas morning before lunch.

But perhaps it is no surprise that anyone with such a lengthy spell should produce such a detailed life story.

Redgrave's triumphs and his much-publicised battles with diabetes and colitis are chronicled.

Less well-known is the story of how his best schoolboy friend and rowing partner collapsed and died when the Olympic hero was still in his teens.

There is also plenty of detail about Redgrave's subsequent team-mates.

Long-term partner Matthew Pinsent is a central figure, as are the other pair of the 2000 foursome, James Cracknell and Tim Foster.

  Coxless four as England footballers
Matthew Pinsent as Alan Shearer, reliable leading the line
Tim Foster as David Beckham, inspired but prone to the odd mad moment
Steve Redgrave is Tony Adams, motivator leading from the back
James Cracknell as David Seaman, the last line of defence

There is even a comparison of the four with members of the England football team, which reveals to the non-rowing fan how they fit together as a team.

But there are also some revelations of unhappier times, including how a younger, headstrong rower came to blows with an earlier partner.

Anyone disappointed by Redgrave's failure to mention his wife when he accepted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award will be glad to know that she does figure strongly in the book.

But do not expect any post-Sydney comment, since it was written before the momentous events of September 2000.

Steve Redgrave: A Golden Age is published by BBC Worldwide and costs 16.99 in the UK.

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