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September 15, 2000
Redgrave poised to make historyGreg Buckle
The bid by Britain's Steve Redgrave to take away an unprecedented fifth successive rowing gold medal will be one of the dramas of the Olympics.
Matthew Pinsent, who partnered Redgrave in their coxless pairs triumphs in Barcelona and Atlanta, says "superhuman" is a good way to describe Redgrave.
But the air of invincibility surrounding the rowing phenomenon is fading.
World champion nine times, the 38-year-old is no longer universally regarded as a gold medal favourite, or even the shining light in his own crew.
That is Pinsent, who knows other crews in the coxless fours will "give us a good kicking" if the British let things slip in the rowing, which starts on Sunday.
Italy, New Zealand and Australia beat the British into fourth place in the coxless fours at the World Cup regatta in Lucerne in July -- an indication of how hard it will be for Redgrave to win gold again.
"It proved to us most importantly but also to guys like you that winning an Olympic gold medal is never going to be easy," Pinsent told a news conference on Thursday.
He said the crew had a "long and involved meeting" after the disappointment of Lucerne where they thrashed out what was going wrong and how to fix it.
"I think we've addressed all of those issues as we've gone along and found some more and really it's just cranked up the quality level of our training in the last six weeks," Pinsent said.
"I think the other boats will look to us as a strong contender. We've got to remain loyal to the training methods and the state of confidence that we've had in the past and reproduce our best form."
Redgrave made a famous vow to retire after his Atlanta win, telling reporters if they found him near a boat again "you've got my permission to shoot me".
Back for the Sydney Games, the 193 cm, 103 kg Redgrave maintains he is as fit as ever, underlining the self-belief that has fuelled his overwhelming success despite battling diabetes diagnosed in 1997.
Redgrave and Pinsent will be part of the British challenge for the coxless fours title.
Australia's "Oarsome Foursome" won the event in the past two Olympics but this time the host country will have a completely new crew.
Double gold medallists from the "Oarsome Foursome", Mike McKay and James Tomkins, both 35, are confidently seeking gold in the eights and coxless pairs respectively.
Switzerland, Romania, Germany and Australia all won two golds in Atlanta and are expected to stand atop the dais again.
The United States, triple world champions, will pose a massive challenge to the Netherlands' defence of their Atlanta gold medal in the men's eights.
New Zealander Rob Waddell, the world champion, is favoured to overpower Olympic titleholder Xeno Mueller from Switzerland in the men's single sculls.
Ekaterina Karsten, of Belarus, who won the women's single sculls at the 1996 Games as Ekaterina Khodotovitch, has since married and had a child, but is going to be hard to stop. She came back in 1999 to win the world championship.
The rowing at Sydney's regatta on Penrith lakes, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, boasts an idyllic setting despite recent concern over strong winds.
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