Sir Steven Geoffrey Redgrave(born 23 March 1962) is a British retired rower who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000. He has also won three Commonwealth Games gold medals and nine World Rowing Championships golds. He is the most successful male rower in Olympic history, and the only man to have won gold medals at five Olympic Games in an endurance sport.
Redgrave is regarded as one of Britain's greatest-ever Olympians. As of 2016 he was the fourth-most decorated British Olympian, after cyclists Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Sir Bradley Wiggins. He has carried the British flag at the opening of the Olympic Games on two occasions. In 2002, he was ranked number 36 in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Early life and education
Redgrave was born in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, to Geoffrey Edward Redgrave, a submariner in the Second World War who became a builder, and Sheila Marion, daughter of Harold Stevenson, a local bus driver. His great-grandparents Harry and Susannah Redgrave moved to Marlow from Bramfield, Suffolk in 1887. He was educated at Great Marlow School.
Redgrave's primary discipline was sweep rowing, in which he won Olympic Gold rowing both bowside and strokeside (port and starboard).
From 1991, the crews in which he rowed became renowned for their consistent dominance, winning almost every time they raced.
For much of his career he suffered illness: in 1992 he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and in 1997 he was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 2.
Redgrave won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000, plus a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Immediately after winning the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal, he stated that if anyone found him close to a rowing boat again, they could shoot him. However, he changed his mind shortly afterward, and resumed training after a four-month break.
In 2000, he won his fifth consecutive Olympic Gold Medal and retired from the sport. In August 2000, prior to his final Olympic Games, the BBC broadcast Gold Fever, a three-part BBC documentary which had followed the coxless four in the years leading up to the Olympics. It included video diaries recording the highs and lows in the quest for gold. At the medal ceremony after the 2000 Summer Olympics he was also presented with a gold Olympic pin by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch in recognition of his achievement.
At the World Rowing Championships he won nine gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze.
He won the World Championship for Indoor rowing in 1991.
Henley Royal Regatta
He competed at Henley Royal Regatta for more than two decades, winning: the Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup for coxless pairs seven times (twice with Andy Holmes, once with Simon Berrisford and four times with Matthew Pinsent); the Stewards' Challenge Cup for coxless fours five times; the Diamond Challenge Sculls twice; the Double Sculls Challenge Cup with Eric Sims then with Adam Clift; and the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls.
He won the Wingfield Sculls for single scullers five times between 1985 and 1989.
Life after rowing
In April 2006 Redgrave completed his third London Marathon, raising a record £1,800,000 for charity.
He starred in Top Ground Gear Force for Sport Relief in 2008, where the Top Gear Team (Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond) took on Ground Force with predictable results, and trashed his garden.
He launched his own Fairtrade Cotton Brand of clothing called FiveG, which is sold in Debenhams department stores.
He was involved in starting a rowing academy in India at Lavasa, the new Hill City being developed near Pune City.
In April 2008, Redgrave took part in the Olympic Torch relay for the games in Beijing, and he went on to be one of the final torch-bearers for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, carrying the torch into the stadium, where seven young athletes shared the task of lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony.
He was named a Patron of the Jaguar Academy of Sport in 2010.
In 2012, he took up kayaking and attempted the Devizes-to-Westminster marathon kayak race, but had to withdraw halfway through due to tiredness.
He rowed on the Gloriana as part of the royal pageant for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
In August 2014, Redgrave was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.
He married Ann Callaway (now Ann, Lady Redgrave) in 1988; an accomplished rower in her own right, she represented Great Britain in the women's eight at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was Chief Medical Officer to the GB rowing team from 1992 to 2001 and since 2009 their first full-time Medical Officer. He is the honorary president of British Rowing.
Steven and Ann Redgrave have three children, Natalie, Sophie and Zac. Natalie rowed with the Oxford University Women's Boat Club which won the women's boat race at Henley Boat Races in 2011.
He is a supporter of Chelsea Football Club.
In the 2001 New Year Honours he was appointed a Knight Bachelor "for services to Rowing", which he received in Buckingham Palace from Queen Elizabeth II on 1 May 2001.
He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987, and promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997.
He was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2000.
In 2001, the International Rowing Federation awarded him the Thomas Keller Medal for Outstanding International Rowing Career.
He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University from Heriot Watt University in November 2001, having previously been awarded an Honorary Blue in 1997.
In 2002, his fifth Olympic gold was voted the greatest sporting moment in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.
The Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake was opened by him and Matthew Pinsent in 2006. The lake and boathouse provide training, medical and scientific facilities for the GB rowing squad.
He was awarded the BBC Sports – Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
In 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh "in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements and role as a sports ambassador".
He is commemorated at Burnham Grammar School, Redbridge Community School and Broadlands Science and Engineering School as one of the four houses there. At Linton Village College in Cambridgeshire and Woodcote High School in Croydon, there is a school faculty (house) named after him.
Styles and honours
- Mr Steven Redgrave (1962–1987)
- Mr Steven Redgrave MBE (1987–1997)
- Mr Steven Redgrave CBE (1997–2001)
- Sir Steven Redgrave CBE (2001–)
- Olympic medals: 5 gold, 1 bronze
- World Championship medals: 9 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
- Junior World Championship medals: 1 silver
- 2000 – Gold, Coxless Four (with Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster, James Cracknell)
- 1996 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1992 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1988 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Andy Holmes)
- 1988 – Bronze, Coxed Pair (with Andy Holmes and Patrick Sweeney)
- 1984 – Gold, Coxed Four (with Martin Cross, Adrian Ellison, Andy Holmes and Richard Budgett).
World Rowing Championships
- 1999 – Gold, Coxless Four (with James Cracknell, Ed Coode, Matthew Pinsent)
- 1998 – Gold, Coxless Four (with James Cracknell, Tim Foster, Matthew Pinsent)
- 1997 – Gold, Coxless Four (with James Cracknell, Tim Foster, Matthew Pinsent)
- 1995 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1994 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1993 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1991 – Gold, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1990 – Bronze, Coxless Pair (with Matthew Pinsent)
- 1989 – Silver, Coxless Pairs (with Simon Berrisford)
- 1989 – 5th, Coxed Pairs (with Simon Berrisford and Patrick Sweeney)
- 1987 – Gold, Coxless Pairs (with Andy Holmes)
- 1987 – Silver, Coxed Pairs (with Andy Holmes and Patrick Sweeney)
- 1986 – Gold, Coxed Pairs (with Andy Holmes and Patrick Sweeney)
- 1985 – 12th, Single Sculls
- 1983 – Single Sculls
- 1982 – 6th, Quadruple Scull
- 1981 – 8th, Quadruple Scull
Junior World Rowing Championships
- 1980 – Silver, Double Sculls
- 1979 – Single Sculls
Henley Royal Regatta
- 2001 – Queen Mother Challenge Cup
- 2000 – Stewards' Challenge Cup
- 1999 – Stewards' Challenge Cup
- 1998 – Stewards' Challenge Cup
- 1997 – Stewards' Challenge Cup
- 1995 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1994 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1993 – Stewards' Challenge Cup
- 1993 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1991 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1989 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1987 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1986 – Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
- 1985 – Diamond Challenge Sculls
- 1983 – Diamond Challenge Sculls
- 1982 – Double Sculls Challenge Cup
- 1981 – Double Sculls Challenge Cup
- 1996 – Winner of UK Celebrity Gladiators
- 2000 – BBC Sports Personality of the Year
- 2001 – Collected a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II
- 2001 – Received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University
- 2010 – Awarded the degree of Hon. LLD from the University of St Andrews
- 2011 – BBC Sports – Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2012 – Carried the London 2012 Olympic Torch into the Olympic Stadium
- 2013 – Awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh "in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements and role as a sports ambassador".