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  Sunday, 10 December, 2000, 21:16 GMT
Redgrave's worthy win
Steve Redgrave
Steve Redgrave takes the plaudits in Sydney
Winning the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality award for 2000 capped a momentous year for Olympic hero Steve Redgrave.

Redgrave captured the hearts of millions after pushing himself to the limit one last time to win his fifth successive Olympic rowing gold in Sydney.

It was an achievement that made him Britain's most successful Olympian of all time, and the first endurance competitor of any nationality to win gold in five Games.

After enjoying the post-Sydney acclaim that his feats fully deserved, he announced his decision to quit - and this time, following his comeback after "retirement" in 1996, he meant it.

The Marlow-born 38-year-old made his debut on the international rowing scene in 1979 when he competed in the single sculls at the World Junior Championships.

Stepped up

A year later, he picked up his first medal, on this occasion a silver, in the double sculls at the World Junior Rowing Championships.

Steve Redgrave
Carrying the flag at the 1992 Olympics
He stepped up to the senior ranks in 1981, helping Britain to finish eighth at the World Championships in the quadruple sculls, before the team moved up to sixth the following year.

Having been persuaded to take a break from sculling, Redgrave really rose to the nation's attention as part of the coxed four that picked up Olympic gold in Los Angeles in 1984.

Also in that victorious boat was Andy Holmes, and the pair went on to form a successful partnership.

A return to single sculls at the World Championships in 1985 saw Redgrave finish 12th, but soon the medals began to flow on a regular basis.

Olympic success

He won his first world title in 1986 in the coxed pairs, and followed it with a hat-trick of golds at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in the single sculls, coxless pairs and coxed fours.


If anyone sees me anywhere near a boat, they have permission to shoot me
Steve Redgrave 'retires', Atlanta 1996
A coxless pairs gold medal at the 1987 World Championships and a silver in the coxed pairs served as a prelude to further Olympic success in Seoul.

He and Holmes raced to victory in the coxless pairs, and Redgrave also picked up coxed pairs bronze.

Redgrave then linked up with new partner Simon Berrisford to good effect at the 1989 World Championships, taking silver in the coxless pair.

However, a serious back injury curtailed Berrisford's involvement, and Redgrave joined up with youngster Matthew Pinsent to enjoy further coxless pairs success.

Youth and experience

Following bronze at the 1990 World Championships, they took gold a year later, before Redgrave completed his Olympic hat-trick in Barcelona in 1992.

Steve Redgrave
Redgrave enjoys world title success in 1997
Three further world titles followed in successive years for the new pairing of youth and experience, before Redgrave and Pinsent succesfully retained their title in Atlanta in 1996.

"If anyone sees me anywhere near a boat, they have permission to shoot me," Redgrave famously announced minutes after his fourth Olympic triumph.

But his retirement speech proved premature as, following talks with his family, the father-of-three went back on the water picking up the coxless four World title in 1997 and adding the FISA World Cup title.

Despite discovering that he was suffering from diabetes, Redgrave retained his coxless four world title in both 1999 and 2000 as well as two further FISA World Cups - even though he and Pinsent slipped to their first defeat in a major race for eight years.

Temptation

And so to Sydney, where along with Pinsent, Tim Foster and James Cracknell, he made Olympic history with his coxless fours success.

The temptation to try and equal Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich's all-time record of six straight wins - set at the beginning of the last century - must have been great.

But Redgrave has always been his own man and insists this time his decision to quit is final.

His immediate plans are unclear, although a London Marathon run is in the pipeline. But whatever career path Steve Redgrave decides to pursue, he will always be a winner.

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 ON THIS STORY
Steve Redgrave
reflects on his outstanding accolade

Best of the best

The story of glory

Sportstalk

PHOTO GALLERY

Sportstalk

Beckham honour

The 2001 show

Winners profiled

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