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The Rise and Rise of the Navy's Olympic Champion


As a Royal Navy Lieutenant and an Olympic Gold Medallist, life has been rather interesting for Pete Reed since he and his three team mates rowed to victory in Beijing in August 2008. Report by Leigh Morrison.

Lt Reed, and team mates Tom James, Andy Triggs-Hodge and Steve Williams beat Australia in the Men's Four Rowing Final in the Olympic 2008 Games to win by just over a second in a nail biting race to the finish.

After his college career advisor suggested the Navy, Lt Reed joined up in 1999 at the aged of 18 and it was through this experience that he found his feet and his desire to row for his country.

Lt Reed was in full time training for three years and the Navy supported his talent by providing education and training, which culminated in him honing his skills through the military, all the way to becoming an Olympic champion.

As if winning a gold medal as part of Team GB wasn't enough, Lt Reed has recently been honoured with an MBE as well as being voted as Sportsman of the Year at the Combined Services Sports Award ceremony which was held at the RAF Club in London in March 2009.

Lt Reed explains that the past few months have been a rollercoaster ride:

"Since last September, my life has completely changed. From a normal rowing lifestyle consisting of three sessions a day, seven days a week, no parties, no rest, no time to go out, suddenly changed to this time after the Olympics. During the build up to the final you can't imagine any time afterwards, it's like time stops on the 16 August at 5.30.

"You win and your life suddenly becomes exciting. It's hugely exciting seeing what's on the other side of the wall and we went to so many parties and dinners and opportunities and people to meet and it was from military things to celebrity parties. It was just brilliant.

"The Prime Minister has been extremely supportive and is complimentary about Team GB's efforts, so that was just extraordinary. It's very nice to meet all these people after all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into rowing."

Since winning the gold medal in Beijing, Lt Reed explained that there have been a few perks to becoming a well known military sportsman:

"Meeting the Queen was wonderful," he said. "I didn't think growing up that I'd ever get to meet the Queen. We all went to Buckingham Palace as Team GB and we also got to go to the GQ Awards and we were introduced personally to A-Listers such as Sir Elton John, Lily Allen, Ewan McGregor and I don't want to name drop but Elle MacPherson winked at me!"

But, although some showbiz attention has been welcomed by Lt Reed, along with his gold medal achievement, he is also extremely proud of being given an MBE in the recent New Year's Honours:

"It's extremely special and we haven't had a date to go to the palace yet but I'm sure that it's in the post," Lt Reed said. "If the Queen is reading this, then please send us a date because I don't want to not go. My mum would be distraught!

"It's very surreal and I'm very proud. I'm just a normal guy who grew up in the West Country and all of a sudden life changed after the Olympics and people treat me differently and there's so much respect from sportsmen and anyone who's been at the Olympics or Olympic champions and because we're in a team sport, I've done it with three other guys and it seemed like a team effort so its very humbling to be in this position."

As well as being honoured with an MBE, Lt Reed was recently awarded with the Combined Services Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year; the second time he has received this accolade:

"Because I won in 2005 after the World Championships, I've been given two daggers [prizes] to take home with me today," explains Lt Reed. "I didn't even realise that you could win it a second time.

"I looked down the list before and there weren't any repeats in the nominations so I sat down and relaxed and waited for someone else's name to be called out, but mine was called out! I was surprised and proud and now I have a matching set of daggers. I really thought that this award was a one off job.

"It's not going to last forever. Sportsmen have a shelf life so it won't last. If I can win it a second time then hopefully I can win it a third time and if all goes well and we get another gold medal in London, then I hope that's enough. It looks like there's going to be a lot of sportsmen going to London from the services and that's something that the services should be very proud of."

So, with all this success, what is next for the Royal Navy's Olympic Gold medallist? Lt Reed explained that the London Games in 2012 are definitely on the cards:

"I have here some revised terms and conditions which I've been told involve me training for another four years and essentially being left alone from an active compliment role onboard a ship.

"It's so important that that goes through because there's no way that I would be able to be part of a team sport where the three other guys, or one other guy, or seven other guys in the boat don't have that same work commitment.

"It's a professional sport now so in terms of training time, there's no time to go and do an honest day's work so thanks very much to the Navy. Fingers crossed!

"The team is very different from last year, so a lot of guys have retired. My four are all doing something different at the moment. Tom is taking a year out, Steve is taking at least a year out, maybe retiring and Andy is having a go at sculling at the moment which is basically the same as rowing but you use two oars instead of one - it's a different discipline.

"So I think that if I'm going to row in a pair it's going to be with Andy Hodge and we'll get together soon. If it's a four then it's going to be with probably Andy Hodge and two guys who are new to the four. There's scope there to be very, very fast in either and I will leave that decision to Yurgen (the coach) but secretly I hope it's a pair as I think we can be really quick.
"Trials are in mid-April so we'll find out pretty soon after that who makes the team."

Peter Reed - Olympics

9th Apr 2009

Views: 708






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