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Steve Redgrave - Rowing Legend

Updated on August 3, 2012

The Rower Who Won Gold Medals At 5 Olympics

Sir Stephen Geoffrey Redgrave CBE, a British rower, was born on 23 March 1962 in Marlow in England. He won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000. He also won a bronze medal in 1988.

As the only Briton ever to achieve this feat, Redgrave is considered by some to be Britain's greatest Olympian. Only four other Olympians achieved the same: Pál Kovács, Aladár Gerevich (the only one to surpass it with 6 consecutive golds), Reiner Klimke, and Birgit Fischer, and only one of those in an "endurance" event. Redgrave has also won nine Rowing World Championship gold medals.

He married Ann Callaway (now Lady Redgrave) in 1988; an accomplished rower in her own right, Ann represented Great Britain in the women's eight at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was Chief Medical Officer to the GB rowing team from 1992 - 2001.

London 2012 Olympics

Lights the cauldron

Sir Steve had the tremendous honour of carrying the torch into the Olympic stadium at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He passed the flame to seven young athletes, who, in turn lit the cauldron. This was an inspiring feat, as the motto of the Games is "Inspiring a Generation". The opening ceremony, choreographed by Danny Boyle, provided many visual highlights of 'what has helped to make Britain, great'.

Many professional sportsmen and women had nominated various people, amongst thousands of others, to also carry the torch around the country in the previous 70 days.

Reigned Supreme on the Olympic Rowing Lakes

Impressive rowing record

Sir Steve Redgrave reigned supreme on the Olympic rowing lakes of the world for 16 years, picking up six medals across five Games.

That's right, six medals - everyone forgets the coxed pairs bronze he won at the 1988 Seoul Olympics with Andy Holmes and cox Patrick Sweeney.

I suppose you can be forgiven for forgetting the bronze seeing as how every other Olympic boat he raced in won gold.

The first came at the 1984 Los Angeles Games in the coxed four with Martin Cross, Holmes, Richard Budgett and cox Adrian Ellison.

By 1988, he raced in two pairs with Holmes, won the coxless event and came third in the coxed.

In Barcelona four years later, Redgrave clinched his third successive Olympic gold when he teamed up with Matthew Pinsent for the first time on the Olympic stage in the coxless pairs.

And the duo repeated the feat in the Centennial Games in Atlanta. After a draining race, Redgrave told the BBC: "If you ever see me in a boat, you have permission to shoot me."

But the durable rower returned to attempt to win a record fifth consecutive Olympic title in Sydney.

And the British public were hooked with more than 6.5m viewers tuning into BBC at midnight to watch what has since been voted the greatest moment in British sporting history.

A tense race finished with the British boat, which featured Pinsent winning a third gold, Tim Foster and James Cracknell, crossing the line just 0.38 seconds ahead of the Italians.

Redgrave had won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Olympic gold in an endurance event.

Fast Facts About Steve Redgrave

  1. By what margin did he win in Sydney?

    0.38 seconds

  2. How tall is he?

    6' 4" and a bit.

  3. Who inspired him to compete?

    Perti Karpinen, 3 times Olympic champion in the single scull.

  4. How many Olympic medals has he won?

    6. Everyone forgets the Bronze from 1988 in the Coxed Pairs - we got the Gold for the Coxless Pairs.

  5. Is it true that he competed in the British Bobsleigh team?

    He competed in the Bobsleigh Championships in Winterberg, Germany and came 15th in 1985 (2-man). We came 2nd in 1987 (2-man) and were winners in 1989 (4-man). They came 11th in the World Cup race in Sarajevo in 1989 (4-man). Rowing worked out a little better.

  6. How did he feel when he found out he was diabetic?

    When first diagnosed in 1997, he was completely devastated and, initially, believed that he would no longer be able to continue training for the Olympics in 2000. How wrong he was. He soon realised that, with special guidance and support, he would be able to continue training and reach the goals he had set myself.

  7. How long has he been married to Ann?

    19 years.

  8. Does he miss training?

    No. he hated training. It was a means to an end. To keep fit now he has to motivate himself with a goal, the London Marathon or another sporting event.

  9. Will we ever see him in a boat again?

    In terms of a rowing boat, yes, he has been rowing since Sydney, including the Legends race, and continues to do so. But only occasionally.

Life After Rowing

In April 2006 he completed his third London Marathon, raising a record £1,800,000 for charity.

Redgrave is a supporter of Chelsea FC.

Steven Redgrave is also commemorated at Burnham Grammar School and Broadlands Science and Engineering School as one of the four houses there.

Also, at Linton Village College in Cambridgeshire, there is a school faculty (house) named after him.

He attended the 2007 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium as a guest of honour.

He also starred in Top Ground Gear Force (although he didn't realise until it was too late) for Sport Relief in 2008, where the Top Gear Team (Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond) took on Ground Force with predictable results, and trashed his garden.

He has also launched his own Fairtrade Cotton Brand of Clothing called FiveG which is sold in Debenhams department stores. Sir Steve is committed to providing a better deal for the Third World through both his FiveG clothing range and the Sir Steve Redgrave Charity Trust.

Clive Woodward and Steve Redgrave
Clive Woodward and Steve Redgrave

Sir Steve Redgrave Plans a Winter Sports Base

Sir Clive Woodward and Sir Steve Redgrave, GB directors of Olympic performance

Sir Steve Redgrave, who is the vice-president of the British Olympic Association, wants to build a long-track speed skating venue in the UK - and house other winter sports in the centre of it.

Britain's five-time Olympic gold medallist is talking with potential private funding donors.

"A third of your medal chances could be under one roof," Redgrave said.

It is worth noting that Britain's only gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games has come in another sport with no British facility - skeleton.

[See Amy Williams - Olympic Skeleton Gold Medalist]

"Why haven't we got anything like this?" said Redgrave.

Redgrave said Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who won figure skating gold for Britain at the 1984 Winter Olympics, were able to become world-class competitors because they moved to Nottingham, after the city offered them use of a rink to get more practice than they were able to find elsewhere.

"My idea is you concentrate on an area where we can be the world's best."

Lifetime Achievement Award - 22nd December 2011

Steve Redgrave Lifetime Achievement Award
Steve Redgrave Lifetime Achievement Award

Steve Redgrave joined an elustrious band of athletes including Pele, Seve Ballesteros and David Beckham in winning the prize organised by the BBC.

He remains Britain's most decorated Olympian with those famous five gold medals, but it was his ambassadorial work for British sport for which he was lauded, which included helping secure Londons 2012 Olympic Games, as well as his role in promoting awareness of ulcerative colitis, a bowel condition he has battled since 1992, and diabetes, for which he was diagnosed in 2000, just weeks before the Sydney Games.

"I'm thrilled by the award," he said, "to be recognised in this way means a great deal, although the downside is that winning a Lifetime Achievement award is a reminder that I'm getting on a bit."

Previous winners of the award include David Beckham (2010), Seve Ballesteros (2009), Sir Bobby Charlton (2008), Sir Bobby Robson (2007), Bjorn Borg (2006), Pele (2005), Sir Ian Botham (2004), Martina Navratilova (2003), George Best (2002) and Sir Alex Ferguson (2001).

The Steve Redgrave Fund

Raised £6 million pounds in five years

Steve Redgrave talks about how he managed to combine sports and philanthropy, setting up the Steve Redgrave Fund. Click here... to find out more.

The Steve Redgrave Fund targets the youth problems of obesity, social exclusion and lack of confidence in British schools. After raising £5 million pounds in five years, it was decided to work with the Sport Relief charity and combine efforts.

Steve Redgrave & Rowing Books - Learn from the best

Shout Out For Steve Redgrave! - He's a good role model

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    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      5 years ago

      What an amazing athlete with so many accomplishments.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 

      6 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      Steve Redgrave is an awesome, inspiring athlete. It was for people like him that I wrote my poem "Ultimate Hero" it has bee amazing to watch him through the years! He's certainly given us something to cheer about!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Greatand useful lens, well done!

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      This is a wonderful lens! I learned so much and am immensely impressed with Steve Redgrave's achievements.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 

      6 years ago from London

      It's a squidoo day for visiting a lens about a sports person you admire...where else to return!

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 

      6 years ago from London

      So great that we had a great man to row for us at the felt good to see.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      In case it's useful, I thought I'd share this link I found which has some personal interviews with Steve, talking about his target of the Olympics and starting the Trust - so interesting and he seems like such a nice guy:

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      9 years ago

      A truly remarkable role model.


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