SIX Olympic medallists visited the River and Rowing Museum to talk about their experiences in London 2012.
Leander Club’s Alex Gregory, Pete Reed and Richard Chambers were joined by Katherine Grainger, Greg Searle and Zac Purchase for the question and answer session on September 8.
More than 150 people attended the talk. The rowers, who were interviewed by former 2004 bronze medallist Sarah Winckless, discussed the lift provided by the “Dorney roar” this year, how they got into the sport, training schedules and motivational techniques.
Pete Reed, who won his second successive gold in the coxless four, said there was an “enormous difference” in the atmosphere from Beijing.
He said: “The crowds there were full but there wasn’t much cheering because they weren’t interested in rowing.
“But this time it was worlds apart and we were right in the middle of it from the first second. We didn’t imagine how big it was going to be.”
Reed said he became involved with rowing at university because he did not excel in other sports but had an ideal build to be an oarsman.
“I remember getting into a boat with seven other like-minded guys and I was good at it straight away,” he said. “If you’re good at something then you enjoy it and I loved it.”
Katherine Grainger, who won gold in the double sculls after three successive silver medals, revealed how she didn’t have much interest in the sport when she was a youngster.
She said: “I got hooked because of the wonderful, charismatic and motivational people and the social life. I wasn’t very good to begin with because I didn’t have the skills. I couldn’t have imagined the Olympics being a possibility but my ambitions and goals developed with each step up.”
Grainger said the success of British women across all sports in London 2012 was a major boost. “Suddenly there was all these women who were recognised on the big stage,” she added. “As a female athlete it’s one of the biggest complements we can have to inspire other people.”
Chambers, who won a silver medal alongside his brother Peter in the lightweight coxless four, said it was “absolutely incredible” to share the experience with his sibling.
“We fought together and to have him in the boat was a great pleasure. To win an Olympic medal with him is an incredible experience and one I will never forget.”
Reed recalled the semi-final victory over Australia, when his crew came from more than a length behind, as a test of his crew’s motivation.
Catherine Yoxall, marketing operations manager at the museum, said: “The lecture gave a fascinating insight into what it was like to train for, participate in and win at London 2012.
“The stories that they told were truly inspirational and we hope that through our rowing heritage programme, Knowing Rowing, we can build on the success of the GB rowing team and inspire the next generation to get involved in the sport.”
The museum hosted the Perfect Rower exhibition this summer to illustrate how the preparations of athletes has changed over the years.
It also published Pieces of Eight, a biography of former GB rowing coach Bob Janousek that chronicles how he transformed the sport in this country.