ANNALISA GALEONE

The National Sports Roadshow (NSR) was held at Brunel University London on the 7th October 2014. This event provides a platform for employers, trainers, students and professionals to meet and interact with each other. It involved presentations and practical demos which the audience could either watch or participate in.

The event was supported by numerous well-known sporting organisations in a variety of sports; meaning participants ages 16-24, who had a passion for sport, were offered career advice and opportunities by leading professionals in the sport and exercise industry.

The NSR was divided in three zones: Careers, which highlighted the diversity of careers available within the sport and the fitness industry; sports, offering delegates an opportunity to observe and participate in taster sessions in a diverse range of sport and leisure activities; and Fitness, which provided guidance on how you can achieve your career and personal fitness goal.

The event hosted a special guest, Sir Steve Redgrave. Redgrave is a British Rower who won five consecutive Olympic gold medals from 1984 – 2000; the first British athlete to achieve such a feat. Recently, Sir Redgrave helped London to win the bid to host the Olympics in 2012 and he is committed to ensuring the event provides a lasting legacy for UK sport in the future.

We had the great honour to interview Sir Steve Redgrave at this event, who gave the following advice to aspiring athletes looking to commit their lives to sport; “Enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re doing you will get lots more out of it.”

Features - Sir Steve Redgrave - CREDIT Annalisa Galeone
Credit: Annalisa Galeone

Le Nurb: How was your passion for rowing born?

Sir Steve Redgrave: “I always enjoyed sports. Academia was not my strength, but I was quite good at sports. When I went to secondary school the head of the English Department had two passions: one was rugby and the other one was rowing. At the rowing school he started a School Boat Club. He happened to be the Captain of Marlow Rowing Club as well, so that helped. I was one of the people he asked to give it a go. And I thought: “’Going out of school during school time?’ that sounded great. It was a no brainer. Within the first two or three weeks I really enjoyed it and carried on. So that’s how I started”.

LN: You scored an amazing collection of top level victories:

  • 5 gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games between 1984 and 2000,
  • 9 gold medals at the World Championships,
  • 3 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, further many others.

           Which one was the most thrilling victory you ever had in your life?

 SR: “Winning the Commonwealth Games in a single gave me a lot of pleasure. The Commonwealth Games are something special. This year was the Commonwealth year back in Scotland [Glasgow 2014] which is where I won my three gold medals [Edinburgh 1986] I was up there and I really enjoyed the event.

Moreover, I really enjoyed Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: there was the top of the British team. That was fourteen years ago. I’m still being honoured and respected for what I did during my rowing career”.

LN: You have never given up with your dreams. You succeeded in becoming a great athlete despite of diabetes. What is your secret? What suggestions could you give to young athletes who wish to commit their lives to sport?

 SR: “I don’t think there are any secrets in some way. I had a passion and I think that the human race likes doing things they’re good at and they avoid things they’re not good at. That’s just instinct. I suppose the advice would be to enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re doing you will get lots more out of it. That’s true for any walk of life, not just sports.

“When I was 16-17 years old, people were telling me that I could be a world champion. That greatly motivated me, but then race after race, year after year I wasn’t quite making it. When I went to the Royal Championships in ‘83 I did very badly; I was eliminated after failing to make the top twelve when the two years before that I was eighth and sixth respectively. Although it was tough, that was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because it led me to change my whole attitude. I looked to different sports; how they trained and prepared, how they got tested and realized that I was only doing half of it. I then put a lot more elements in. I think the more you put in, the more you get out of it. So if there is a secret, it would be do as much of whatever you’re doing as you can, have as much fun doing it as you can and that will improve your performance.”

Credit: Annalise Galeone
Credit: Annalise Galeone

 LN: At the London 2012 Olympics you carried the Olympic torch along the River Thames as it travelled from Oxford to Reading. Please, tell us about this experience.

 SR: “Actually, I carried the torch twice. Once in Henley, where I did the majority of my training, which was a great honour. Henley is where the 1908 and 1948 Olympics were hosted, so for London 2012 Olympics a team of young rowers was put up together to carry the torch. We started at the River & Rowing Museum and rowed past the finishing line of the 1908 and 1948 Olympics’. The gas in the torch lasts about 15-20 minutes and it took much longer than that so we had to have three torches. At one stage I was holding two torches at the same time! I’d really love to see a picture of that.

“I was also the last Olympian to bring the torch into the stadium. I passed the torch to a group of young athletes who each had the opportunity to carry the torch, representing the future of the games. That was a great occasion: not many people get the chance to hold the torch”.

 LN: You established the Steve Redgrave Fund in 2001. Could you please tell us about this charity initiative?

 SR: “I was involved in charity when I was still competing. Then when I retired I felt I wanted to make an impact financially for children’s causes. I thought: ‘I’ve got all this recognition for what I’ve done in sports why not trying of making the most of that?’ I set myself to raise 5 million GBP for children’s causes within five years. Most of this money went to working closely with small communities and larger charities. We gave money to things like building a hoist to get disabled people in and out from a swimming pool, and buying a boat for a blind school in the Liverpool area which used to do rowing as an activity. We have supported hundreds of different projects all around the country in many different areas”.

LN: In January 2014 you took part in the TV reality show “The Jump” on Channel 4. Why did you decide to join this TV show, and how would you judge this experience?

 SR: “I’ve been asked to do many reality TV programs and I refused every time. I thought; ‘I don’t do reality TV’ but I love winter sports and when the invitation came across my desk I decided I did actually want to do this one. January is a very quiet month for me anyway, so I did some training in December-January and the competition was at the end of January. I got a chance to do things I never done before and I didn’t see it as a TV program. I saw it as an excuse to be out in Innsbruck, Austria for six weeks improving my own ski skills. I thought: ‘They’re going to pay me as well. So, pay me to go skiing? What’s wrong with that?’ That’s the reason I decided to join to “The Jump”.

During the program I was one of a number of people who got injured, though I carried on as long as I could. I really enjoyed it and if I was given a chance to do it again I would.”

 LN: Tell us something about your future projects.

 SR: “In December I’ll become chairman of Henley Royal Regatta. It is a volunteer role. It takes up a lot of time, but I’m really looking forward to taking on an event that has 175 years of history. Henley Royal Regatta is very successful even without sponsorships and big media coverage. Each chairman is originally voted in for eight years, but the last one’s reign was 22 years; so if I don’t mess it up I could be in the role for quite a few years.”