By Mike Rowbottom

Eskild EbbesenJuly 14 - Eskild Ebbesen, winner of five Olympic rowing medals since 1996, the last of them at London 2012, has been awarded this year's Thomas Keller medal.

The 41-year-old Dane thus joins previous winners including Alf Hansen, Carmeno, Guiseppe and Agostino Abbagnale, Thomas Lange, Steve Redgrave, Matt Pinsent and James Tomkins.

The Thomas Keller medal is the highest distinction in the sport of rowing and is awarded to recognise an exceptional international rowing career as well as exemplary sportsmanship.

steveredgraveSir Steve Redgrave was a previous winner of the Thomas Keller medal

The award was set up in 1990 to honour the late World Rowing Federation (FISA) President, who died in 1989.

Ebbesen, who received the 18-carat gold medal at the Lucerne Rowing Night - a regatta gala dinner held at the 2013 Samsung World Rowing Cup III in the Swiss city, can claim to be Denmark's most successful sportsman.

He made his first appearance on the senior international rowing scene in 1992 at the World Rowing Championships in Montreal.

Twenty years later, aged 40, he rowed his last race at the London 2012 Olympic regatta, winning bronze.

Ebbesen competed at five Olympic Games, including Atlanta 1996 the first to feature lightweight rowing, and 12 World Rowing Championships, winning five Olympic medals - three golds and two bronzes - and his nine World Championship medals - six golds and three silvers.

Thomas Ebert Morten Joergensen Mads Christian Kruse Andersen and Eskild Balschmidt EbbesenEskild Ebbesen (far right) has competed at five Olympic Games

Together with a series of remarkable Danish rowers and coaches, Ebbesen changed the status of lightweight rowing, both in terms of speed and competitiveness.

In July of 1999, on the Rotsee in Lucerne, Ebbesen's crew set a world best time of 5min 45.60sec in the lightweight men's four that then bettered the open-weight mark for the same event - this time has remained unbeaten until this day.

The lightweight men's four was Ebbesen's signature event, and stroke seat was his preferred position in the boat.

Racing with different teammates over two decades, Ebbesen was the one constant figure in the boat that came to be known as Denmark's "Golden Four".

Looked up to as a leader in his crew, he was also admired by his competition.

Ebbesen's belief was that through repeated practice, focus and attention, he could turn his hand to anything.

With a Masters in Human Physiology from the University of Copenhagen Ebbesen has shared his studies in sports science to help others understand how to improve themselves.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2012: Britain's men's rowing four take silver in "brutal" race
February 2012:  Denmark aiming to match Beijing performance at London 2012