Olympic rowers having to live with expectation
PETER REED celebrates his 32nd birthday on the day the London Olympics opens and by the end of the Games he hopes to be soaking up the adulation after helping Team GB win a fourth consecutive gold medal in the men’s four.
Reed, a former Cirencester Deer Park pupil, is one of five returning Beijing gold medallists to have been chosen in the largest ever British Olympic rowing team announced last week.
Reed, Andy Triggs Hodge and Tom James are back in the men’s coxless four, a boat in which they won gold with Steve Williams in 2008. Alex Gregory replaces the now-retired Williams.
Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter will stage a defence of the lightweight men’s double scull title in a team comprising 48 rowers across 13 boats.
Meanwhile, Steve Rowbotham, who won bronze in the men’s double sculls in Beijing, this time targets the quadruple sculls. Rowbotham was born in Swindon and grew up in Cirencester until the age of 14. Between 2004 and 2008, Reed became Olympic champion and double World Champion in the four, and pulled off an unbeaten run of winning 27 international races.
He and Triggs Hodge subsequently competed in the two-man boat but after a run of defeats at the hands of the New Zealand world champions they have switched back to the four — the flagship boat made famous by the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent.
Despite being among Britain’s brightest medal hopes this year, Reed dismisses any suggestions that the team must be a gold medal certainty.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of work to do and, if we start believing that, it’s very dangerous. There is massive talent in the coxless fours this year. Everyone is raising their game.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to make the nation proud in August. It’s an opportunity to be part of history, to realise every sportsman’s dream, and to win gold in a home Olympics would be spectacular.
Reed is convinced his officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth has been vital in shaping his sporting career.
“At Dartmouth, I learnt about teamwork, determination and dedication, having enthusiasm for what I’m doing – and those things are exactly what I’m using every day to get the job done,” he said.
“I don’t think I could have done this sport for as long as I have if I hadn’t gone through Dartmouth.”
Great Britain is the third most successful country in Olympic rowing history with 54 medals – 24 of them gold – and topped the medal table with six at the 2008 Games. Anything less in London would be deemed a disappointment, despite the strength of the opposition. Unlike, Reed, Rowbotham and his fellow scullers come to London as outsiders, even though they hava a medal-winning pedigree “We were ranked second in the world four years ago and now we’re seventh,” said Steve. “So it is a little bit different this time, but ultimately why can’t we come away with a better result?
“You sense the country is getting ready for the Olympics.
And I feel fortunate and lucky that my name’s on that sheet for a home Games as it won’t come round again in my lifetime.
“We had ten days to prepare as a crew for Lucerne and ‘the quad’ is one of the hardest boats to get together.
“Come London, we are going to be the boat under the radar but the talent we’ve got in our boat is no less than anyone here so why can’t we do it.”
Team GB complete their Olympic preparations at the Munich World Cup regatta which takes place this weekend from June 15-17.
Sunday’s finals are being televised live on BBC 2.