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- British rower
Steve Redgrave’s bid to haul British Rowing out of its current crisis has been rejected after he failed to make the final round of interviews to be performance director.
Fresh from losing its most successful head coach ahead of a worst Olympic showing for 45 years, an internal British Rowing review resulted in chief executive Andy Parkinson resigning after six years at the helm, and performance director Brendan Purcell following a fortnight later.
Redgrave, a five-time Olympic champion, was scathing of British Rowing’s approach at this summer’s Tokyo Games where its athletes returned a woeful tally of just two medals - a silver in the men’s quadruple sculls and bronze in the men’s eight.
That pitiful performance came in the wake of head coach Jurgen Grobler’s departure, prompting Redgrave to suggest “it may be that the approach has gone a bit soft”.
It is understood Redgrave submitted an application for the vacant performance director role but did not make the final round of interviews.
Redgrave is thought to have been interested in applying for the performance director position when it was previously available in 2018, but was discouraged from doing so with British Rowing seemingly intent on hiring someone from outside the sport. Purcell had developed his reputation in canoeing and triathlon.
It emerged in October that Redgrave had entered talks with US Rowing over a new coaching role which could see him pitted against Team GB athletes at future Olympics.
US Rowing confirmed it was in discussions with Redgrave over a long-term position “for Paris 2024, LA 2028 and beyond”. Those talks are yet to result in an appointment, and Redgrave remains as China’s performance director, where he helped them win one gold and two bronze medals at the Tokyo Games - an increase on the two bronzes it won in 2016 and one silver in 2012.
Redgrave did not mince his words in the wake of Britain’s shambolic rowing performance in Tokyo, blaming an organisation that had paid the price for allowing Grobler to walk away the year before the Games, following in the footsteps of ex-women’s head coach Paul Thompson.
“If you ask two of the best coaches the world has ever seen in any sport to leave, both within two years of this Olympics, then you deserve what you get,” Redgrave told the Telegraph immediately after the Tokyo Games.
Upon announcing her retirement last month, three-time Olympic rower Vicky Thornley said stability was needed after the turmoil prior to this summer.
“It made Tokyo more challenging than it needed to be, even before everything that came with Covid-19,” she told the BBC.
“The changes in coaching and management structure beforehand made it more challenging. This is a time where people at the top need to deliver more consistency and certainty around what’s happening.”