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Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Monday, 25 October 2010 12:47 UK

Former GB Olympic rowing star Andy Holmes dies

Andy Holmes (centre) with the men's coxed fours team that won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Left to right: Martin Cross, Dr Richard Budget, Holmes, Steve Redgrave and cox Adrian Ellison.
Holmes (centre) with the men's coxed four crew that won Olympic gold in 1984

Great Britain's double Olympic champion rower Andy Holmes MBE has died at the age of 51.

Holmes was part of the coxed four crew, which included Sir Steve Redgrave, that won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

He then partnered Redgrave to gold in the coxless pairs at the Games in Seoul four years later.

Holmes is believed to have died from the bacterial infection Weil's disease, also known as leptospirosis.

"It's a very sad day," Redgrave told BBC Radio 5 live. "It hits you very hard that somebody you rowed with is no longer with us. I rowed with him for five years and we were hugely successful.

He was in his own little world but he was a fantastic athlete and a brilliant guy

Sir Steve Redgrave

"The latest British success in rowing has come from the 1980s era. It really put Britain on the rowing map and Andy was at the forefront of that.

"He was a quiet guy, a loner. He had a French degree and on training camps and regattas he would sit and just read books in French and just kept himself to himself.

"Most people watch other sports but Andy wasn't like that. He was in his own little world but he was a fantastic athlete and a brilliant guy."

The infection is a problem for watersport athletes because it can be caught by coming into contact with river water containing the urine of infected animals.

"This is something most rowers know about and is educated to us," Redgrave added. "But it is very rare that anything happens because normally rivers flow fast enough and dilute it."

Holmes had been involved in coaching over the past two years after a return to the sport in which he also won gold in both the coxed four and coxless pairs at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

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