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Updated: 2006-08-19 15:48
Rowing Olympic sport since 1896

Tactically, it sounds as ludicrous as sprinting the first five kilometres of a marathon. To win a 2000-metre rowing race, the crew must sprint for the first 500 metres.

Such are the demands in the sport of the Athlete of the Century and the Oarsome Foursome.

Rowing is an endurance test that finishes at a speed of up to 10 metres a second. Crews cover the middle 1000 metres at about 40 strokes per minute, but, over the first and last 500 metres, shift up a gear to as many as 47.

The modern master is Steve Redgrave of Great Britain, widely hailed as the greatest rower ever. A six-time World Champion, he won gold medals at the last five Olympic Games and has been loosely crowned Athlete of the Century.