08:00AM, Monday 21 December 2020
Marlow’s Sir Steve Redgrave has been voted the greatest sportsman in British history by members of the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA).
Rowing was in the spotlight at the awards evening thanks to Sir Steve’s incredible Olympic achievements. He is the most successful male rower in Olympic history having won five gold medals from different Olympic Games and one Olympic bronze.
Cookham’s Jim Rosenthal hosted the event over Zoom last week and Redgrave shared his memories of how he overcame Type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis to reach the top of his sport over a 20-year period.
Afterwards, he said on Twitter: “It is always humbling when you find out people have voted for you, never more so than when the competition is so fierce.
“Thank you to everyone who voted, whether it was for me or otherwise, and a special thanks to those who voted for me, especially grateful.”
Redgrave’s golden career began at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 when he won with the men’s four.
A second Olympic gold followed in 1988 alongside the late Andy Holmes. Redgrave then began a famous partnership with Sir Matthew Pinsent, winning Olympic golds as a pair in 1992 and 1996.
Both moved to the four for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and, together with Tim Foster and James Cracknell, Redgrave won an astonishing fifth Olympic gold medal.
Pinsent paid tribute, saying: “Steve was the driving force behind the men’s team in the 1980s and ’90s, setting standards of professionalism and determination that was new ground for a sport and a group that was amateur.
“It was obvious the results that he and his crews got was a direct result of the hard work that he [put in] but it paved the way for much of what was to follow. He was in every way ahead of his time and I still think that his example is relevant today – fully two decades after he retired from the sport.
“He was in every way inspirational in both word and action.”
The British Sports Awards is usually a gala occasion held in central London but this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it took place as a virtual ceremony over Zoom.
Andy Parkinson, CEO at British Rowing, said: “Sir Steve Redgrave’s incredible feats at the Olympics are obviously well known but today his legacy for British Rowing goes beyond just those five gold medals.
“Sir Steve and his crew-mates created a buzz and excitement about rowing which led to many people of all ages taking up the sport and some even going on to become Olympians in their own right.
“We are delighted to see Sir Steve, a true legend of our sport, recognised in this way.”
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