Triple Olympic rowing champion Pete Reed OBE has backed former mentor Steve Redgrave to emerge victorious in the Sporting Legend category at November’s National Lottery Awards.
This year’s ceremony marks the 25th Birthday of the National Lottery and will celebrate the success of the UK’s favourite National Lottery-funded programmes and people, with over £40 billion having been raised for good causes since its inception in 1994.
Redgrave – who won five Olympic golds at successive Games between 1984 and 2000 – is one of 12 nominees in the Sporting Legend category, among other heroes including Maidenhead’s Dame Katherine Grainger, Sir Chris Hoy and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
National Lottery funding was introduced the year after Redgrave – alongside partner Matthew Pinsent – secured Great Britain’s sole gold at Atlanta 1996, with British athletes having since gone on to win a further 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals.
And Reed, 37, believes the most successful male rower in Olympic history deserves to be recognised at the ceremony for his achievements in the sport – both on and off the water.
He said: “I’m not sure what he achieved will ever be replicated – to win five golds at five different Olympic Games in such a physically-demanding sport is absolutely monstrous.
“I did three Games and it broke me, so to do two more is extraordinary.
“But his contributions away from the lake have been massive too – he was always there for me at the end of the phone or even in person during our toughest moments and biggest races.
“He’s been a huge advocate for the National Lottery too, he’s a global icon and just a wonderful person.”
While Redgrave enjoyed success prior to the introduction of National Lottery funding, Reed explains the support helped shape his and others’ legacy which has contributed to the increased success that GB have enjoyed at more recent Games.
“Creating role models has been massive for what National Lottery funding has been able to do over the past 25 years,” he said.
“Steve’s shown people it’s possible to win and I think that sense of reality is really important to look up to for anyone.
“My own career picked up on the back of Steve’s success and he inspired me and the rest of my crew to believe we could replicate his achievements.
“He set the standard but with the help of the funding there has been a dramatic change in the depth of the rowing team across the board.
“We were third overall in the medals table at London 2012, and then second at Rio four years later so you can see the impact the funding has had.”
The Sporting Legend category is one of nine at the awards and Reed says he can’t wait to reflect on the success National Lottery funding has had across the UK at a range of levels.
He said: “It’s going to be a huge celebration for all of the finalists and there are some great causes.
“I’m really excited to hear all of the different projects that the National Lottery have contributed to, because it’s transformed sport as we know it.”
Vote now in the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards