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September 23, 2000
Five in a row for RedgraveThe Rediff Team
Great Britain won the Men's coxless fours final in Olympic rowing at the regatta centre in Penrith -- and the legendary Steven Redgrave won his fifth consequtive gold medal.
Against a field including Australia, USA, Slovenia, Italy and New Zealand, the British foursome took an early lead at the 500m mark with Australia isecond, Italy third and the US fourth.
The British four crossed the 1000 mark in a time of 2:58.67 seconds, while Italy took over the second spot from Australia.
. At the 1500 mark, the stage was set for a tremendous finish with Italy surging forward, in hot pursuit of Britain, and seemingly set to take the lead.
A tremendous head to head down the final 500 saw the British crew dig deep within themselves to manage, but only just, to hold off the Italian challenge and finish first in a time of 5:56.24 seconds!
Italy took the silver, while Australia claimed bronze in the event.
For Redgrave, a journey that began in 1984, Los Angeles, ended at the finish line. After the race, Redgrave announced that he was retiring.
Redgrave, now 38, won his first gold in the coxless fours at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 before switching to the coxless pair, in which event he claimed three successive golds. His mate in Barcelona and Atlanta, Mathew Pinsett, and he then teamed up with two others to head the British challenge in the coxless fours this year, the event that gave Redgrave his 5th gold.
The only Olympian to have done better in terms of longevity was Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich, who won six successive golds in the sabre team from 1932 onwards.
A nine-time world champion and 3-time Commonwealth Champion, Redgrave has been battling diabetes for a while now. The rigours of competition at the highest level cued him to announce his retirement after the Atlanta Olympics, but he succumbed to the lure of one last try for glory.
The massed crowd at Penrith gave the legendary British rower a standing ovation when he stepped up to claim the last Olympic gold of his career.
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