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Page last updated at 21:20 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Romero

Rebecca Romero

Sports Personality of the Year
Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena Date: Sunday, 14 December Time: 1900 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website.

Rebecca Romero's golden efforts on the Beijing cycling track were all the more remarkable considering she had only been in the sport for two years.

Romero had won silver in the women's quad sculls at Athens 2004 before injury forced her to quit rowing.

She was then approached by British Cycling in 2006 and focused on preparing for the 2008 Olympics.

And at the Games, the 28-year-old's 'Hollywood' story was complete with gold in the individual pursuit.

Sir Matthew Pinsent
Sir Matthew Pinsent
Four-time Olympic rowing champion

Sir Matthew Pinsent was out in Beijing for the BBC and witnessed Rebecca Romero's extraordinary feat on the cycling track.

Here, the four-time Olympic gold medallist explains why the British heroine who succeeded both in his sport and then in cycling deserves to be in the reckoning for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

I think Rebecca's achievement in Beijing surprised not only the wider public but the athlete herself.

To win silver in rowing at Athens 2004 and then gold four years later in Beijing's track cycling was nothing short of amazing. It was testament to her ability, her focus, her drive to come out on top.

There are certain parallels between rowing and cycling - I'm thinking of the demands on the heart and lungs. And no doubt, her rowing training, which required a similar workload, helped her gain the fitness required.

But what is different between the sports is that there are different techniques and tactics involved and you're also competing against the best.


Rebecca reached the peak of one sport and within about three years made the summit of another.

She also moved from having been part of a team in rowing to an individual on the track. You do need strong-minded individuals in a rowing team but you also get people to spur you on both in training and in competition. There isn't that when you're racing on your own on the track - so she would have had to adapt a different mentality.

I've known Rebecca for a while, since the time we were both in the same team for the Athens Games in 2004.

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Romero powers to gold

It seemed then she was gritting her teeth and forcing herself to compete rather than loving what she did - she has made known her feelings since. But she was always very supportive of her crew-mates and cheered them on.

I'm glad she's happy with her sporting career now after making the move to track cycling, and I'm delighted she getting some fantastic results - two golds at the world championships and gold at the Olympics this year.

I know I couldn't have done what she achieved, I was designed for rowing. That leads me on to where I think she is ranked among the long list of triumphant British sporting stars.

There are something like 100 or so living Olympic champions and, of those, about half have won a medal at more than one Games. However, none have won medals in two different sports.

To win multiple medals puts any British athlete in an elite group, but to win gold in two different sports has put Rebecca among the 15 to 20 greatest Olympians this nation has ever produced.

If she wins another Olympic gold at London 2012 then she will become one of the legends of British sport.

Sir Matthew Pinsent was talking to BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

Stories from Romero's year:

Sun 14 Dec, 1900 GMT,
BBC One & BBC Radio 5 Live.

see also
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Sports Personality 10: Ben Ainslie
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Sports Personality 10: Joe Calzaghe
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Sports Personality 10: Lewis Hamilton
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Sports Personality 10: Andy Murray
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Sports Personality 10: Christine Ohuruogu
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Sports Personality 10: Rebecca Romero
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Sports Personality 10: Bradley Wiggins
01 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality