Redgrave’s rowing masterclass
Sir Steve Redgrave only took up rowing to get out of the classroom, several decades on and now he is the one teaching the lessons.
The five-time Olympic gold medalist put some of Bermuda’s young rowers through their paces at Bermuda High School last night, even jumping on a rowing-machine to lead them in a quick work out.
Redgrave, in Bermuda to play in the British Airways/Cambridge Beaches Hackers Cup golf tournament, called the session with some members of the Bermuda Rowing Association ‘very satisfying’.
“Internationals, they are very set in their ways and you can give them some help and it takes them a lot longer to change,” he said. “But, teaching beginners is very satisfying because you can give them some simple tips and they’ll respond.”
After 25 years of dedication to a sport that consumed his every waking hour Redgrave isn’t sure if he wants to start coaching full time or not, at the moment he’s just happy to help out when he can.
“At some stage I might go into coaching, I quite enjoy it, I’m not sure I’ve got the aptitude for it,” he said. “The problem is that rowing internationally you’re training seven days a week, 49 weeks of the year, having one day off once every three weeks.
“So to go and be coach, you end up with a bigger time commitment than that, and having been a poor rower for 25 years, after you start earning some money you’re thinking (to go back) would be difficult.
“I help out when I can at all sorts of different levels.”
The fact that he’s around to help out at all comes from a career that included six Olympic medals, nine world championships, and might never have begun if an English teacher named Francis Smith hadn’t offered Great Britain’s greatest Olympian a chance to escape the classroom.
Not the most interested of students by his own admission Redgrave began rowing for his school in his home town of Marlow, at the time the site of the world’s largest one-day regatta, and a successful first season, during which his coxless four crew surprised themselves and Smith by winning several races, planted the seeds of ambition within him.
“I think after that first season of doing so well (I got the bug),” he said. “People like doing things that they are good at, even with something you’re good at there are lots of different factors to it.
“As someone who came across the sport and started doing quite well at it very early on you think ‘well, I can’ (be successful).
However, the dedication and hard work needed to become a top rower didn’t come for several years after, but once found produced the athlete that dominated rowing for two decades.
“People were telling me at the age of 16-17 that I was potentially going to be a world champion, so it gave me that sort of focus,” said Redgrave.
“The problem was that at the beginning of it, I believed that was going to happen and all I had to do was bide my time because my name was engraved on the trophy, I just didn’t know which year it was going to be.
“Then a few years later working out, eventually, that actually you have to make it happen, it doesn’t just happen. You learn lots of different things along the way, but quite early on in my career I set myself targets to try and be one of the best in the world.”