Olympian advice: Sir Steve Redgrave coaches junior rowers; left Anais Goater, back left Amaya Goater (daughters of Shaun Goater), right Shiloh Roberts and back right Alshauntae Hollis. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
Olympian advice: Sir Steve Redgrave coaches junior rowers; left Anais Goater, back left Amaya Goater (daughters of Shaun Goater), right Shiloh Roberts and back right Alshauntae Hollis. *Photo by Ras Mykkal

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23: One of the greatest Olympians of all time put the island’s junior rowers through their paces last night.

Sir Steve Redgrave, winner of five Olympic gold medals, met with members of the Bermuda Rowing Association to encourage youngsters in the sport.

Sir Steve — considered Britain’s greatest Olympian — is on a five-day visit to the island to take part in the Hackers Cup, a celebrity golf tournament sponsored by Cambridge Beaches.

But he clearly relished taking time out to meet junior rowers yesterday, chatting about his schooldays first taking up the sport and learning the importance of hard work, training and endurance.

Growing up in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, the head of his high school’s English department first inspired him to take up the sport at the age of 13.

“I wasn’t the brightest student at school so any excuse for getting out of normal classes I was up for,” said Sir Steve.

“Every day after school, Francis just made it so much fun.”

Starting in a coxed four, he went on from winning inter-school competitions to eventually progress to world championship level.

“There’s a saying in rowing, that the work you put in during the winter determines how fast you go in the summer,” he said.

After taking up regular training, he said: “We won everything at a junior 16 level and were quite competitive against the juniors of 17 and 18-years-old.

“Among everything I’ve done since, that was probably the best season in my career.”

As for advice for young island rowers, he told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s always going to be difficult here because normally rowing is done in rivers and lakes.

“There is coastal rowing but it’s done in slightly wider boats for more stability.”

Sir Steve recommended using indoor rowing machines to improve competitiveness.

He said by connecting the machines with the Internet, clubs and schools could hold races over an Internet connection.

“When you’re stuck on an island and you’re weather-dependent, you’ve got a great opportunity here,” he said.

“The problem is on a very small island, everything you do gets better with competition and if there’s only a small amount of people doing it, you’ve got encourage any competitions with rowing to increase your game.

“But at the end of the day it’s about fun.”

Charity

Sir Steve is honourary president of British Rowing and is vice president of the British Olympic Association.

He is also vice president of the diabetes awareness charity, Diabetes UK.

He was diagnosed with the condition in 1997 but went on to win his fifth gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

His attitude and achievements have since inspired other diabetes sufferers from around the globe.

Asked if he had any advice for people in Bermuda, which has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, Sir Steve said: “I don’t believe diabetes is related to obesity.

“The best bit of advice I can give to people wanting to do sport is to go to my consultant’s website www.runsweet.com.

“There’s lots of information on there which people can find really useful.”

He added: “I came up with the attitude that diabetes had to live with me, not me having to live with diabetes. So if you have that attitude that’s a good starting process.”

As for being the ‘favourite’ to light the flame at the 2012 London Olympics, Sir Steve told the Sun: “I’m bookmakers’ favourite for doing it but, as people tell you, it never goes to the favourite.

“I would be honoured if I am asked to do it but whoever is asked to do it is only asked very close to the Games.

“I certainly haven’t been tipped off so it’s not me so far.”

Twins Amaya and Anais Goater, daughters of soccer star Shaun Goater, were among the junior rowers coached by Sir Steve last night.

Amaya said: “It was a pleasure because he is so famous. It was great.”