By Paul Higham. Last Updated: 01/08/08 4:36pm
Boron: Golden girl
Germany's supreme sculler Kathrin Boron can legitimately be labelled as the female Steve Redgrave, heading, as she does, to Beijing in search of a fifth consecutive rowing gold medal.
What's more, Boron uses two oars as opposed to the normal one as she tackles the immensely difficult sculling events, where athletes have to be extra careful of their technique despite the gruelling nature of the rowing making their lungs full to bursting and legs tremble under the pressure.
Tough 38-year-old bank clerk Boron is one-of-a-kind though and has powered her way to the gold medal in the last four Olympics - giving her a shot at equalling Redgrave's remarkable record in Beijing.
As well as four Olympic golds on the spin, Boron has pocketed seven World Championship gold and five silver, along with ten World Cup medals, and is ranked as the world's top female rower.
Alternating between the double and quad sculls, Boron won the doubles with Jana Thieme to start her Olympic dominance in Barcelona in 1992, and repeated the victory in that event in Sydney 2000, while in between she took gold in Atlanta 96 in the quads and doubled that achievement up in Athens.
Again she will be competing in the quad sculls in her bid for a fifth gold, rowing alongside Britta Oppelt, Manuela Lutze and Stephanie Schiller in the German boat.
Boron's first major victory on the rowing circuit came back in 1989 when she landed a Rowing World Cup gold in the quad sculls for then East Germany, a result she repeated a year later - this time in the doubles.
The double sculls also gave her a first World Championship gold in 1990 in Tasmania - and that title was successfully defended a year later in Austria.
Everything was clicking into gear for Boron and the double sculls Olympic gold medal was added to her collection in Barcelona - the start of her love affair with the Games.
A switch to single sculls only brought her World Championship silver in 1994, and a fourth-placed finish in 95, and from there she made the big switch from singles to quads for the Olympics - but it was a move that paid off as the Germany four grabbed Atlanta gold.
1997 saw Boron claim a wonderful double in the World Championships as she won the double and quad sculling events and she arrived at the Sydney Olympics unbeaten in major events and unsurprisingly she stood on top of the podium again for a third successive gold.
Although her form dipped slightly a return to a four-women boat again brought success and a remarkable fourth Olympic title on the bounce came in Athens - but she is without a major victory since.
Switching from singles and back to quads has not managed to bring about a victory, so Boron and her crew go to Beijing only as World Championship silver medallists.
Her Olympic run could be over but, despite being 38 and with some slipping form in the book, Boron has been there and done it before, and with a burning competitive streak and desire to achieve greatness, a fifth gold medal might not be entirely out of the question.
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