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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 10:06 GMT
Pinsent's pulling power
By Sarah Holt

PINSENT FACTFILE
Matthew Pinsent in action
Born: 10/10/1970 in Norfolk
Event: Men's coxless fours
Coach: Jurgen Grobler
Rowing honours: Olympic coxless pairs gold (1992, 1996)world gold (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001) world bronze (1990)
Olympic coxless fours gold (2000, 2004) world gold (1998, 1999)
World coxed pairs gold (2001, 2002)
Personal honours: MBE, CBE
Ask the average man on the street to name a rower and the answer would almost certainly be Sir Steve Redgrave.

Press for another name and you might hear Matthew Pinsent.

But to suggest Pinsent is second best would be to deny his own supreme talent on the water.

True, his fourth Olympic gold title, won in the men's coxless fours in Athens, still leaves him one short of Redgrave's golden haul.

But Pinsent's own quartet of golds makes him Britain's second most successful Olympian - behind Redgrave, but ahead of such luminaries as Lord Sebastian Coe and Daley Thompson.

And we should not be surprised because Pinsent's gold rush - from his first at the 1991 world championships - has lasted a staggering 12 years.

BBC Sport examines why rower Matthew Pinsent has the golden touch.

STICKING HIS OAR IN

You can bet Pinsent was pulling for home the hardest when he, Redgrave, James Cracknell and Tim Foster pipped the Italians by 0.28 seconds to the 2000 Olympic coxless fours medal in the blistering Sydney sunshine.

The 33-year-old is regarded as the key to that historic victory - the anchorman, who provided the boat's muscle.

At six feet, four inches Pinsent, who could have been a professional rugby player, is a tower of strength.

And Pinsent is able to feed his aching muscles when it counts with oxygen from his lungs which have the largest capacity ever recorded in Britain - eight-and-a-half litres.

Pinsent's physical power was illustrated at the world championships in Lucerne three years ago.

With less than two hours between each race, he and Cracknell powered their way to an unequalled golden double winning both the men's coxless pairs and the coxed pairs.

MENTAL STRENGTH

When Redgrave invited the 19-year-old Pinsent to partner him in 1990 any other teenager might have been intimidated by a man 10 years his senior with two Olympic medals in the bag.

Not Pinsent - he was hungry for success and unshakeably confident in his own ability.

"I was determined not to play second fiddle to him," insisted Pinsent. "I had to give as good as I got."

Pinsent showed that same sense of proud determination and drive in Athens.

James Cracknell (left to right), Stephen Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent celebrate gold in Sydney
Pinsent (right) engages in a group hug after jumping in the water to celebrate success in Sydney
He gave the coxless four's performance in the heats a six out of 10 and demanded improvement, citing gold could only be gained with more "aggression and confidence".

It is this level-headed leadership that has earned Pinsent respect outside of his sporting achievements.

Until recently the Henley-based rower was a member of the International Olympic Committee, and he is actively involved in London's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.

And training for hours upon end with such a dedicated individual has only generated warmth from his team-mates.

He remains close friends with Redgrave and is a godfather to both his and Cracknell's children.

TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY

Pinsent, a self-confessed hypochondriac, might not have made it to Athens at all.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist missed the Great Britain trials with tonsillitis and admitted to constantly having health checks in Greece.

PINSENT BLUNDER
Pinsent's Olympic gold medal from Sydney was stolen after he lost his briefcase in a car park. It was returned 10 days later
The 33-year-old's nerves and focus were also tested in February when he and Cracknell were dropped from the coxless pairs and pulled into the fours once again.

Pinsent was again forced to adapt when Alex Partridge was forced out of the fours with a collapsed lung in July and replaced by Ed Coode.

The Greek omens did not look good but Pinsent remained unflappable and rose to the challenge.





Links to more Rowing stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: British Olympian Matthew Pinsent


Interview: Matthew Pinsent's coach Jurgen Grobler



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