China Calling for Legend Redgrave
Five-time Olympic champion Steve Redgrave has been appointed first high performance director of the Chinese Rowing Association.
The Brit will develop a new coaching structure in order to help China achieve success heading towards Tokyo 2020.
The appointment came as a surprise to some for two reasons.
Firstly, never before has the Chinese Rowing Association offered a foreigner a high-profile job.
Secondly, only four weeks previously Redgrave decided not to apply for the equivalent position in the British Rowing set-up.
Redgrave felt the role with China better suited his needs, and one look at the 56-year-old's CV quickly reveals why they were so keen to land him.
Redgrave's glittering career
China’s success on the water has been somewhat less pronounced, with just one Olympic gold to date.
With Redgrave’s vast expertise to now call upon, Chinese Rowing Association boss Liu Aijie will hope that his two-gold medal minimum target is met at Tokyo 2020.
"I certainly wasn't expecting it,” Redgrave told the Olympic Channel of the China Rowing Association's approach.
“I have visited China to watch the team train and compete and am very excited about becoming involved with such an enthusiastic and committed group of athletes." - Redgrave.
"With the Tokyo Olympics fast approaching and looking ahead to Paris in 2024, the new role in China will be demanding but I look forward to the challenge of helping China become one of the top rowing nations in the world."
Rich Coaching Pedigree
It is not Redgrave’s first foray into coaching.
He helped prepare the British Olympic women’s rowing team for the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Games, with the group winning several gold medals.
Redgrave’s new role began at the opening World Rowing Cup regatta in Belgrade.
While China are not yet an established Olympic rowing force, the signs are that they could become one.
In the relatively short period of time they have been competing at elite level they have landed nine Olympic medals and twelve World Championship titles.
"There's a lot of counties who would dream of having results like that," the Briton continued.
"China is an untapped resource within rowing. They have only been rowing for thirty years internationally and I think I can bring consistency to their results."
Redgrave will focus on improving coaching rather than working with athletes, but his role will by no means only benefit elite level rowing.
"Another part of my role is to develop the sport in China as well. So visiting events, schools and universities in order to grow the rowing family.
"If we've got a wider base, we've got more chance of people getting to the top.