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“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” according to Kenneth Grahame’s Ratty. Not that for many club rowers there is much messing about: it can be an extremely serious sport. But there is something visceral, an almost childish pleasure, about simply being on the water.
Rowing has been part of the Olympics since the second Olympiad in 1900 (it says something about participation in the sport that the 1896 Games should have had rowing but bad weather forced its cancellation). Baron de Coubertin is supposed to have borrowed ideas from Henley Regatta in his vision for the modern games. And some of Britain’s greatest sporting names in recent years have been those of our rowers: Steve Redgrave; Matthew Pinsent, and James Cracknell among them. And arguably the greatest moment in our entire Olympic history was the win by the coxless four in Sydney on September 23 2000, providing Redgrave with his fifth gold medal from five Games.
Rowing of course isn’t just for those seeking Olympic glory, it can be a gentle pull up the river in anything from single sculls to coxed eights; or a club versus club event where the Pimm’s or a pint afterwards is the point of it all. But it does keep you fit; it is social and sociable, and at whatever level it still has that joy of being on the water and simply messing about in boats.

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Recommended Books:
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A Steve Redgrave: A Golden Age - The...
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