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Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 13:01 UK

Redgrave tips rowers for medals

Sir Steve Redgrave
Sir Steve maintains close links with Rowing in Henley and Reading

Olympic rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave is tipping several Berkshire rowers for Olympic success in Beijing.

Eighteen of the GB squad come from the Berkshire area and Redgrave says he expects many to return with medals.

He told BBC Radio Berkshire he hopes for golds for the men's lightweight double-scull, the women's quadruple scull and the men's four.

"Out of the 12 boats that have qualified, I'd say nine of them have realistic medal chances," he said.

"Zac Purchase from Reading and Mark Hunter, who rows for Leander, finished third at the world championships last year in the lightweight double-scull. But they've beaten everybody so far this year.

"There's only one more regatta left for them and that's the Olympics.

"The Italians and the Danes are very strong, but our guys have beaten them every time this year so go in as favourites.

"Then there's the women's quadruple scull which has dominated the circuit for the last couple of years.

"They're co-favourites along with the Chinese. I think they'll pull off the gold medal.

"Over the past few years, the top men's boat tends to win the gold medal. The four last year only managed fourth at the World Championships - that was their worst result over a three-year period.

"They've had a couple of injuries but things are starting to come back on track. They've an excellent chance of a gold medal, along with the Australia, Holland and the outsiders, Italy."

Many of the team are based at the Leander rowing club in Henley and in addition there is also the Redgrave-Pinsent rowing lake at Caversham, which plays an important part in British rowing.

"All the teams now train at Caversham," Redgrave added. "It's a great set-up and that's where they'll all be doing their preparation before they go off to Beijing."

Redgrave said the one drawback of this being an Olympic year is that the field at the Henley Royal Regatta, which runs from 2-6 July, is not as strong.

"All the Olympic boats are off doing their final preparations and won't be able to race at Henley this year, but domestically it's still the biggest even there is," he said.

"A lot of American crews are coming over and I know there are some Australians coming over as well. In the open events, because all the Olympic boats won't be there, everyone fancies their chances ."

see also
Team GB for Beijing
26 Jun 08 |  Team GB
Rowing on the BBC
13 May 08 |  Rowing

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