Last Updated: 22/04/12 4:21pm
Pinsent hails rowers
Matthew Pinsent is confident the current crop of British rowing talent is capable of trumping the achievements of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where Team GB scooped six medals in the water.
The 41-year-old dominated the sport for 12 years between 1992 and 2004, teaming up with fellow great Sir Steve Redgrave to scoop gold in four consecutive Olympic Games at Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.
Great Britain are hosting the world's most famous sporting event for the first time since 1948 and Pinsent realises that home fans will bring great support - but also add to the sense of responsibility on our athletes.
He told Sky Sports: "There'll be a lot of pressure on the people that we know best - the household names, the 10 or 12 people you can name who are going to be on Team GB.
"At the moment, on paper, it's the strongest rowing team we've ever had."
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"But for the vast majority of the team it's very much a feel free, enjoy it and have a go. It's so rare for athletes to have a home Olympics in their career that the majority of the athletes should just go for it and enjoy it.
"Rowing is usually out on the edge of the Olympic city - that was certainly true in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing. We were always out of the way because it's very rare you get a city with a rowing lake right in the middle. The joy of rowing is that it's in the first week and then you can move back into town and watch everyone else - hopefully, if you've got a gold medal around your neck, it's a nice party week!"
Pinsent and Redgrave kicked off a golden era for British rowing, but he is quick to highlight the potential of the current crop of British competitors and has high hopes of them coping with the pressure and rising to the occasion in London.
He added: "At the moment, on paper, it's the strongest rowing team we've ever had. We won two gold, two silver and two bronze in Beijing so that's six medals. There are 14 medal events that we can chase, one boat in each and I think we can go both more in number and more than two golds. If we can do both of those things in our home Games, you'd have to say that we've had a fantastic games. It looks like we could do that on paper, but the start line of the Olympic Games is lonely place!
"I think the rowing team have learned what works. I certainly learned from Steve. He started his career for the '84 Games and then '88. I joined him for the '92 Games and through the 90s we were getting better and stronger. Then you become systematic about it, stripping out the stuff that doesn't work and continuing the stuff that does with each edition of the Games.
"Even though Steve has long since retired, I've stopped and James Cracknell's moved on, the new athletes that come up into that system are learning from what we did two decades ago, so it becomes a winning system. It becomes normal that they all train hard and scientifically. It means we are now the number one rowing nation in the world. I'd love to say it was all down to me, but it's not!"
Many are concerned that the worldwide publicity attracted by the Olympic Games will provide a platform to protests like the one staged during the Boat Race in on April 7.
But Pinsent believes that heavy-handed attempts to prevent a repeat of such scenes would damage the spirit and coverage of the Games.
On the issue of protests, he said: "I don't want to be part of an Olympics or part of a city that secures its games so well that protest like that would be impossible. That would mean you're fencing in a marathon route or cycling route, which I think would be awful.
"I'd hope people who were thinking about protesting or have a particular manifesto that they seek publicity don't think that it's acceptable to disrupt an Olympic event. I don't think it's acceptable to sacrifice someone's sporting life, their training for the last four years, to put your cause out there to millions of people. I don't think it's good for whatever cause they're protesting for."
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