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Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 04:43 GMT 05:43 UK
Gold star Cracknell celebrates
Britain's coxless four hero James Cracknell speaks exclusively to BBC Sport Online and tells of his emotions after winning gold.
James Cracknell knew it would be amazing but he had to admit that clinching Olympic gold had surpassed his wildest dreams.
Cracknell, who teamed up with Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and Tim Foster to win the coxless fours, said the realisation of what he had achieved was only just dawning on him.
"All the spectators have gone now and just thinking back on it all feels really good," he said.
"I've achieved what I set out to do when I started rowing 12 years ago, so it feels pretty special - particularly with the people I had alongside me.
"The sense of occasion hits you when you see how many press are out here and you've got Princess Anne giving the medals and Juan Antonio Samaranch coming over as well.
"I have been fortunate enough to win a gold medal and with so many millions of people watching back home it was great just to be a part of it.
"Looking back to before the race, I wasn't nervous as such. I've been waiting for this for so long now and Friday was a horrible day... we just wanted to get on with the final.
"It has all been really emotional and a couple of us were in tears last night at the team meeting.
"We so much wanted to win and we believed no-one should be able to take it away from us.
"Steve was telling us some of the things he's been going through over the last four years with his illness and when you've got a guy like that speaking to you it's pretty motivational.
"To me, he's just Steve and he's one of the crew, but it's only over the last two weeks I've realised how much he means to people.
"Coming out here and walking around the village with him you see almost every member of the British team coming up to him and wanting his autograph.
"I felt bad in a way because here they were out here competing as well and I didn't know what events they were in.
"People sometimes ask me if I ever get jealous of the attention Steve gets but I don't at all... I think he's fantastic.
"You can't be jealous of a man like that. You just admire him and be glad that you are there with him instead of someone else.
"For me, this was my first Olympics and I know I'm really lucky to have won a gold medal.
"During the race itself we were very aware that the Italians were closing the gap towards the finish.
"In previous races we've been going off quick but then had people closing us down before halfway, so we made sure that didn't happen today.
"I knew we would win but it was getting tight at the end and I don't think Steve realised just how much otherwise he would have called for another lift.
"We didn't row our full race plan, but it was the best we have done over the first 1,500m this season and that's all you can ask for on a day when you have to produce your best.
"There were so many British people out here in the stands and their reaction astounded us all.
"It made us really proud to row over to the fans at the end, even though the officials said we weren't supposed to.
"I haven't really thought about what happens after Sydney. I can't imagine Athens being like this in four years' time.
"It's been an amazing Olympics and an amazing year to do it in, so you can see why Steve has carried on for so long.
"My only firm plan is to start law school when I get home - I haven't even decided where I will celebrate winning!
"We may not even party together. Although we are all one crew we are four very different people.
"I'm sure I'll be with Tim but Steve will probably be with his family and Matt might go out with some of his friends.
"What we have shared today means we don't have to celebrate together tonight.
"I'm sure we will all meet up when we get home but for now we'll be with the people who have flown out here to support us."
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