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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 18:30 GMT
Pinsent full of praise
Matthew Pinsent
In his column for BBC Sport Online, triple Olympic gold medallist and former Blue Matthew Pinsent pays tribute to both the Boat Race and its oarsmen.

One of the great things about the University Boat Race is that the guys do it for the love of it.

For six or seven months through to the race they train as hard as any international oarsman.

They will put in probably two or even three sessions a day, only getting a day off every fortnight or three weeks.

It's a huge commitment, yet the returns they get put them firmly in the amateur camp.

Their "professionalism" has to be admired.

Pinsent's record
Olympics
Gold - 1992, 1996 & 2000

World Championships
Seven gold medals

University Boat Race
1990 - won
1991 - won
1993 - lost as President
However, there are rewards of another kind, and some of the guys I rowed with at Oxford are some of my best.

Motivating yourself through the winter months can be as desperate as the weather at times.

The sharing of that experience means the camaraderie is really strong and you can't underestimate how much they rely on each other and how much they respect each other.

The other aspect of the race that cannot be underestimated is that it is one of our best sporting exports.

People do look at it and think that the Brits are crazy, but they also think it's a pretty amazing event.

They're not wrong.

It does sometimes get some bad press, but it doesn't get denigrated by people who know it or by people who have bothered to find out anything about it.

It holds its position in the calender because of what it is, and part of what it is, is what it has been for the past 150 years.

The race is a straightforward challenge between the two universities, but despite the tradition it is imperative that the event moves with the times.

Matthew Pinsent celebrates Oxford's victory in 1991
Pinsent celebrates victory in 1991
To try and hark back to the days of nine Old Etonians, all of whom were 19 and studied law or medicine, would totally undermine the race as a high quality event.

As the character of the entrants changes, the character of the race changes.

You get a lot more post graduates and a broader array of nationalities, but there's nothing wrong, or new, about that - the first foreigner rowed around 1900.

A century on it promises to be a cracking race - at least that's the expectation.

Clashing and controversy are better than a procession, but more than anything, what we'd love to see is the crews going head-to-head for 15 minutes.

Such a scenario would do the crews, and the race, great justice.

BBC Sport Online's University Boat Race site

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