SCOOP Olympic Update, Saturday, 23 Sept, 2000
SCOOP Olympic update, Saturday, 23 Sept, 2000
Article: Mathew Loh
A GOLD MEDAL has been hung around the neck of world-champion rower Rob Waddell who earned the title of New Zealand's first Olympic champion at Sydney 2000 with an awesome display of power to decimate his opponents in today's single sculls at Penrith Lakes.
Waddell, who has been described as having a V8 compared to the four cylinders of most of his opponents, got off to an excellent start to have a lead at 200 metres. He then elected to cruise for another 1400 before exhibiting his high-powered engine to pull away at the 1600 metre mark.
The 25-year-old Cambridge oarsman knew he would be challenged when he made his move and sure enough his arch-rival Switzerland's Xeno Muller went with Waddell stroke for stroke over a pulsating final section of the race.
However as everyone expected Waddell was too good and streaked to a famous victory in a time of 6mins 48.90 seconds. Muller took silver in 6.50.55 while German rower Marcel Hacker impressed to take bronze from the more fancied Canadian oarsman Derek Porter.
With the 2metre tall 97 kiogram Waddell using his formidable physique to superb effect he surged into the front and while the powerfully built Muller strained and heaved he could not match the Kiwi whose destiny was to deliver New Zealand it's finest moment of glory at the 27th Olympiad.
Hailing from Cambridge and married to world class rower Sonia Waddell nee Scown - who also made her single sculls final but struggled finish sixth behind gold medalist Ekatarina Karsten - Waddell who has won numerous world champs both on and water and indoor has lived and breathed his sport for much of his life.
And in the wake of what, apart from the supreme horsemanship of Olympic great Mark Todd, has been a poor week for New Zealand athlete Waddell's feat of highlighting his dominance over a world class field in one of sport's most stenuous disciplines has to be appreciated for what it is - simply an awesome chapter in the story of one of the finest Olympic champions in New Zealand's famous sporting legend.
It was fitting that Waddell showed his magnificent ability to take gold on day
that will goe down in history as the most famous morning in Olympic rowing history.
And the reason for that highlight is simple - Britain's phenomenal Steve Redgrave whose rowing exploits make him argubly the greatest Olympian of all time.
Aged 38 the evergreen and superfit Redgrave was appearing in his fifth consecutive Olympics and by inspiring his coxless four teamates, Mathew Pinsett, Tim Foster and James Cracknell he had every chance of making history by winning five gold medals in consecutive Olympics.
An Olympian feat if there ever was one and althought the British crew wasn't favoured to win gold everyone at the regatta had the feeling that something special was bound to happen once that man Redgrave got his hardened hands on the oars.
Anyone at Penrith Lakes was then honoured to see one of history's greatest sportsman become a living legend by leading his crew to victory and adding a Sydney 2000 gold to the one's earned at Los Angeles 84; Seoul 88, Barcelona 92; and Atlanta 96.
His peers are all in agreement that Redgrave's skill, strength, strategic mind and sheer durability will never be equaled and anyone who has seen him race is privilaged to have seen one of the greatest sportsmen ever to draw breath.