SYDNEY 2000 ROWING TRIUMPH RE-RUN-Britain's greatest Olympic rowers back together for The National Lottery Legends Sprint
London - Great Britain's most successful rowers are reuniting on the water to race together one last time, in a recreation of the historic "Redgrave 5th Gold" Sydney 2000 race, to raise money for children in areas affected by December's tsunami earthquake disaster.
For the first time since their victory in the coxless four at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Tim Foster will compete together, in the original boat, in The National Lottery Legends Sprint.
Joining them in the race to take place during the Rowing World Cup on Saturday 28th May at Dorney Lake, Eton are set to be the Italian, Australian, Slovenian, American and New Zealand crews who all competed in the 2000 Olympic final.
That legendary race in 2000 saw the GB crew win gold by a margin of just 0.38 seconds ahead of the Italian crew and, despite the race being broadcast close to midnight in the UK, it was watched by 6.6 million viewers on BBC Television.
The National Lottery Legends Sprint was conceived by Britain's greatest Olympian, five times gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, to help raise money for the World Food Programme's (WFP) school feeding projects, which assist children in tsunami hit areas.
Sir Steve said: "The National Lottery Legends Sprint is a special race for us all. Not only does it reunite Matthew, James, Tim and I, but it will also raise valuable funds to support children whose lives have been dramatically affected by the tsunami disaster.
"After the Sydney final, I never thought I would compete with these great men again. Purely as a sportsman, a chance to do so, against such talented competition, is enough of an incentive for me to get back into a boat. Being able to raise money that goes directly to children whose lives have been devastated by the tsunami only adds to my desire to take part in The National Lottery Legends Sprint."
The WFP's school feeding programmes work on a simple formula: food attracts hungry children to school where they have a better chance of gaining from their education if they have a nutritious meal each day. Education then broadens their options, helping to lift them out of poverty.
James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, said: "I am delighted that the original GB rowing crew - and all of the international crews - have agreed to come together for this cause.
"It is testimony to them as individuals that they are giving up their time in order to raise vital money for the World Food Programme's school feeding projects in these areas of the world that suffered the greatest impact from the tsunami."
Funds raised by The National Lottery Legends Sprint which is also supported by Elision, British Airways and the Marriott Heathrow will go directly to the WFP's School Feeding Programme, which target tens of thousands of children in the areas worst affected by the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Donations to The National Lottery Legends Sprint can be made now by logging on to www.steveredgrave.com, by calling 0870 756 7979 or texting the word DONATE to 81333.
There will also be the opportunity for those attending the Rowing World Cup to make donations on the day.
Matthew Pinsent, who won his fourth Olympic gold medal in Athens 2004, before announcing his retirement from the sport, is delighted to support such a worthwhile cause.
He said: "Anyone who saw the television footage or read the newspaper reports in the immediate aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami could not have failed to be deeply moved by what they saw. The same applies to all four of us. I would encourage the public to support us in this cause and I would hope we can do our bit to support this global effort.
"From a sporting point of view, The National Lottery Legends Sprint will be a great occasion. The emotion of winning in Sydney has not been forgotten by us and we still want to win."
James Cracknell is taking a year away from the sport but was persuaded by Steve Redgrave to return for this one-off special event.
Cracknell said: "I thought I wouldn't be returning to the water for 12 months but The National Lottery Legends Sprint was an opportunity I could not turn down. It will be an amazing experience to be back in the boat with Steve, Matt and Tim and I am delighted to be able to raise money for the World Food Programme."
Tim Foster is now involved in UK Sport's Elite Coaching Programme. He is excited about recapturing the spirit of Sydney.
He said: "I'm currently in training to become a fully-qualified coach to the current GB squad and, as a result, I'm on the water more often than Steve, Matt and James are at present. However, I know they won't need any motivation to regain that competitive edge. You do not win Olympic gold medals without it and the winning mentality does not diminish with age. We're all looking forward to training together for The National Lottery Legends Sprint to see if the magic is still there!"
Mike O'Connor, Chair of The National Lottery Forum, said:
"The National Lottery is a great supporter of sport in the UK. Since 1994, £3 billion of Lottery funding has benefited sport from community based facilities to the funding of our elite athletes. Rowing, one of our most successful sports, has received over £80 million in Lottery funding and has benefited from grants to clubs, athletes and venues such as the finishing tower at Dorney Lake; the Rowing World Cup itself and the River and Rowing Museum in Henley, where the original boat from Sydney 2000 is displayed.
"The National Lottery has already donated £12 million to victims of the tsunami and we see The National Lottery Legends Sprint as a further opportunity for us to support the Steve Redgrave Trust's work with the World Food Programme to deliver vital aid to children in tsunami striken countries."
The National Lottery Legends Sprint takes place on Saturday 28th May at 12.20 at the Rowing World Cup, Dorney Lake, Eton. It will be broadcast live on BBC Grandstand.
For tickets please log on to: www.wrc2006.com
For information on WFP, go to: www.wfp.org
For further information please contact:
Fast Track: 020 7593 5237 or 07765 223075
National Lottery Promotions Unit:
020 7211 3894 or 07968 278851
Steve Redgrave Trust
07774 467 085
World Food Programme
020 7592 9292 or 07968 008 474 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
· Since 1994 The National Lottery has given £3 billion to Sport throughout the UK - supporting community, grass roots and elite level programmes. Rowing has received over £80 million in National Lottery funding, including £30.5 million from UK Sport (up until 2009) and around £48 million from Sport England
· The finishing tower at Dorney Lake, Eton, received Lottery grants of £250,000 from Sport England and £202,000 from UK Sport, as well as investment from Eton College and the South East England Development Agency
· UK Sport has provided Lottery funding of up to £350,000 to the 2005 Rowing World Cup, as a contribution to the staging costs
· In January this year, The National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund, awarded a grant of £12million to a programme of long-term reconstruction initiatives to help victims of the tsunami. Funding will be used for projects aimed at rebuilding communities devastated by the disaster, as well as restoring civil infrastructure
· The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded over £1million worth of Lottery grants to Henley's River and Rowing Museum, where the original boat from Sydney 2000 has been on display. Grants have improved access to the musuem; enabled images of the collections to be viewed online and enabled the acquisition of the landscape painting, 'Henley from the Wargrave Road', signed by Jan Siberechts and dated 1698
· For further information on Lottery funding to Sport and Rowing please see the individual factsheets