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BBC Five Live's Alan Green
"The greatest rower of all time, the greatest British Olympian of all time"
 real 14k

Team-mate for the first gold medal, Martin Cross
"Steve has the strength of Geoff Capes"
 real 14k

At the Leander Rowing Club, Henley
Redgrave's friends and supporters pay tribute to him.
 real 14k

Francois Carrard, IOC director general
"Just great, fantastic."
 real 14k

Past Glory
Listen to Steve Redgrave winning his last four gold medals
 real 14k

Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 01:06 GMT 02:06 UK
Redgrave's golden glory
Relief and emotion shows as Pinsent hugs Redgrave
Relief and emotion shows as Pinsent hugs Redgrave
real 56k Redgrave and team talk to the BBC.

Olympic legend Steve Redgrave raced to a record fifth successive gold medal as Britain's coxless fours scored a thrilling victory over the Italians.

Cheered on by ecstatic British support at the waterside, and millions of TV viewers burning the midnight oil back home, Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster and James Cracknell, held on for an historic win.

British fans lined the banks of Lake Penrith
British fans lined the banks of Lake Penrith
The crowd went wild with delight as Redgrave and his team somehow held on in the face of an incredible surge from the battling Italians to win by 0.38 seconds. Australia were third.

Cracknell and Foster punched the air with delight, while Pinsent climbed back down the boat to hug his long-time rowing partner Redgrave, who was clearly overcome.

Early bath

After the embrace, Pinsent, claiming his third gold, fell joyfully into the water.

It was desperate at the end, but we never doubted we would win
  Steve Redgrave
The victory made Redgrave, 38, the first Olympian to win gold at five successive games in an endurance event.

After milking the applause of the crowd, Redgrave attempted to shrug off the importance of the day.

"Every day is history and today is no different," he said. "I knew we had won it after 250m.

Desperate end

"It was all over by then in my eyes. As soon as we were out in front no-one was going to go past us.

"Sure, it was desperate and fraught at the end, but we never doubted we would win.

"It has been four years of hard work. I had a good feeling all week and I knew it was going to go well.

"It was close, but that doesn't matter. Second best is not good enough, it's who crosses the line first.

"A lot of people wanted us to win but we still had to go out there and do the job."

Matthew Pinsent said that all his friends watching back at the Leander club in Henley, should go to the cabinet in the bar, take out the Union flag from the Atlanta Games and run it up the flag pole to celebrate.

Olympic inspiration

Pinsent was keener to underline the importance of the occasion for Redgrave.

  Redgrave's gold rush
1984 Los Angeles - coxed four with Martin Cross, Richard Budgett, Andrew Holmes and Adrian Ellison
1988 Seoul - coxless pair with Holmes
1992 Barcelona - coxless pair with Matthew Pinsent
1996 Atlanta - coxless pair with Pinsent
2000 Sydney - coxless four with Pinsent, James Cracknell and Tim Foster
"He has made himself the greatest Olympian Britain has ever produced and arguably in the world," he said. "You can't get better than that. It is an inspiration to all of us.

"It didn't go all our own way. Italy pushed us very, very hard. But at every stage we knew we would win. We stuck to our plan."

Samaranch tribute

Redgrave and the team received their gold medals from the Princess Royal, with the whole crowd rising to acclaim the achievement.

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch also presented a gold Olympic pin to Redgrave to mark his famous five golds.

Cracknell said: "Half way I thought we would win by miles, but the Italians did really well. But it was a great feeling in the last 50 - I knew they wouldn't catch us."

Foster added: "They got close to us, but it feels absolutely fantastic now."

Early lead

Great Britain had moved quickly into the lead, with Australia in second place by the 500m mark.

Redgrave and his warriors opened up half a length lead with Foster dictating the rhythm superbly alongside his stronger colleagues.

But the Italians surged through in the second half of the race, upping the rate to a stirring 44 a minute.

In an unforgettable finale the British again responded, with stroke Pinsent keeping a close eye on the advancing rivals, and victory was secured.

High five

Redgrave's "high five" capped a remarkable four years since he won the coxless pairs with Pinsent at the Atlanta Olympics.

Then, still gasping for air, Redgrave assured television viewers that they had his full permission to shoot him if he was ever seen near a boat again.

But the pull of the oars was too much, and he pushed his long-suffering frame through enormous punishment to reach peak fitness.

In the two years that followed Atlanta his appendix had to be removed, he injured his arm and, to cap it all, he was then diagnosed with diabetes.

Nothing though was to deter him or indeed his three teammates in his final, and ultimately successful push for gold.

  • Early viewing figures indicate that a UK audience of 6.6m stayed up to watch Great Britain's coxless four claim victory on BBC TV at around 2430 BST.
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