At six foot four inches, Sir Steve Redgrave was on the smaller side in the world of rowing, but one similarly built Bedfordian is looking to the five-time Olympic champion for inspiration with his own career.
Redgrave is perhaps the most well-known name in British rowing, securing five consecutive gold medals for Team GB in Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and finally Sydney in 2000.
18-year old George Reed, who is also six foot four, rows for the same club as the famed Redgrave – the prestigious Leander Club in Henley – but resides in Elstow, and is making a name for himself in rowing circles.
And with Reed’s career reaching new heights, he is looking to the very top of the sport for inspiration in reaching the next step:
“Most Olympic rowers are really big and tall. Redgrave is only six foot four, so he’s definitely got that mental fortitude.”
“That’s something that I like. I like it when rowers have good mental toughness, because if you don’t have the long levers like everyone else, you’ve got to do things differently.”
Reed’s rowing journey is funded by a partnership between Entain – the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – as well as SportsAid.
The injection of money helps him access top level training, equipment and mentoring as he accelerates towards Under-23 level after success in the Under-20 class.
Hopes for Paris 2024 in the water…
A place in John Snow College at Durham University awaits in September, after a well-earned gap year, with the Sport and Exercise Science degree aiding his travails in the water:
“The Olympics are the long-term aim”, said Reed. “I’m still quite young, I’ve just finished my junior career and I am going on to the Under-23 level.”
“I’ve got four or five years of that which could be good, and it’s about wherever my under-23 experience excels and takes me.”
While Reed’s height may be considered tall in normal society, it is on the lower side in the world of rowing, with the average height of a male professional rower standing at a mighty six foot six.
With smaller “levers”, Reed knows he needs to find the extra edge to stand out from the crowd, in much the same way his hero, Redgrave did when he started his career in the late 1970s.
“There’s a saying that if you’re not tall, you have to be wide”, adds Reed. “You’ve got to have that mental drive if you’re not physically and genetically gifted.”
So while the pandemic may have caused a temporary halt, George hopes that the lifting of lockdown will help him get back into the water and work towards the ultimate dream – The Olympic Games.
And while Paris 2024 may well be the aim, the 2028 version is being held in Los Angeles, the scene of Sir Steve Redgrave’s first Olympic Gold medal. Another useful statistic for those who believe in fate…