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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Redgrave retains Olympic passion
By Piers Newbery

Sir Steve Redgrave
Redgrave will be a mentor for six British Olympic hopefuls

Sir Steve Redgrave plans to be a key figure at yet another Olympic Games when the British team gets to Athens next year.

The Olympic legend swears he will not be getting back in a boat and going for rowing gold number six, but will be as involved as possible with competing athletes.

As a mentor for six British hopefuls he will be available over the next year to give advice and ideas, without the demands of full-time coaching.

"It's personally very rewarding being involved with the athletes," Redgrave told the BBC Sport website.

"What's great is that most people who retire get sucked into coaching. That's seven days a week, 49 weeks a year, and I did that for 25 years.

"Maybe in a few years' time I'll want to be involved on that side but I needed a break from it.

"This gives me the opportunity of being involved with the Olympics and top athletes, and the interest of them going for their golds next year and beyond.

"That's a great kick for me."

With six young athletes to keep an eye on and the increasing demands of being a focal point of London's 2012 bid, Redgrave is tied to the Olympics for the foreseeable future.

I don't think I'm going to be asked to become an IOC member
Sir Steve Redgrave

"I've been involved in the Olympics going back to 1972 as a 10-year-old, watching Mark Spitz win seven golds," said Redgrave, speaking at the launch of Team Visa.

"I've been involved in one way or another from then until now and I can't see that changing, even if we're successful with the London bid.

"I can see myself being involved further than that."

He admits that the transition from athlete to being a figurehead for British sport has taken him into areas he would have avoided in the past.

"I always said that I wasn't going to be involved in sports' politics and as soon as you stop, the first thing you get involved in is sports' politics," he said.

"I'm a vice patron of the British Olympic Association and I'd like to be involved at the IOC level, but I don't think I'm going to be asked to become an IOC member.

Paul Goodison, Leanda Cave, Sir Steve Redgrave, Jonathan Pollock, Richard Mantell, Nicole Cooke and Daniel Caines
Redgrave hopes the six athletes will learn from each other
"We have four in this country already and they're not going to ask another one as they have a policy of one from each country, so we're doing pretty well."

Redgrave has lived through a dramatic change in the support given to British athletes and is upbeat about next year's Games, and beyond.

"I think we're improving all the time. The backing of our athletes has moved on a tremendous amount, from 1984 when it was very amateurish within our own sport and the BOA.

"They basically organised four weeks of the Games every four years, and that was it."

But there is a cautionary note where funding is concerned.

"There have been talks that lottery funding will be cut on a year-to-year basis and competing as a top athlete doesn't get any cheaper, it gets more expensive every year," said Redgrave.

"The time commitment goes up, the equipment gets more expensive as does the travel.

"Sponsorship is a vital part of that, the lottery is important, government funding is important."

Whatever the future holds for the six hopefuls he is now closely involved with, Redgrave believes his Olympic experience can be of benefit.

"They've achieved some tremendous results already and I do wonder how I can help them," said Redgrave.

"But I love the Olympics," he said. "It's what most of my life has been about, and there may be something I can do or say that will help them achieve their goals."

Sir Steve Redgrave
"I'd like to be involved with the Olympics at whatever level"

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