By Mike Rowbottom in London

April 15 - Sir Steve Redgrave is backing Greg Searle’s (pictured) quest to seek rowing gold at the 2012 London Olympics at the age of 40 - and puts him on a par as a rower with himself and his former team-mate, the four-times Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent

Searle, who won Olympic gold in 1992 with brother Jonny in the coxed pairs, has returned to the sport aged 38 after a 10-year break in search of a second gold, and he finished eighth in the British trials held in Hazewinkel, Belgium at the weekend.

"In rowing terms, the world has seen three really outstanding athletes, and I would put Greg, Matthew and myself into that category," Sir Steve said today as he attended the launch of the National Lottery’s Games Brain of Great Britain, a nationwide quiz to find the country’s expert on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Although Searle had hoped to finish in the top seven in the single sculls trial which was won by world silver medallist Alan Campbell, Sir Steve believes he is still on course to maintain his international comeback.

"At the national trials last weekend he finished eighth, which puts him right on the borderline of being on the team this year," Sir Steve said.

"Greg’s challenge, as he stated it, was that he would like to be on the team this year, in whatever boat, and next year to be in a boat that is going to medal, and the following year in 2012 to be in a boat that wins a gold medal.

"That’s a pretty good way of looking at it and he’s just about shown enough to justify him being in one of the boats."

Searle described himself as "disappointed" with his result in Belgium, but "satisfied" that he was continuing to make progress, adding: "I've demonstrated in the last few months that I can train and that I can race without falling over."

Further testing will take place before the GB squad is announced on May 18.

Redgrave, who won his fifth Olympic gold at the 2000 Sydney Games aged 38, added with a chuckle: "It frustrates me I’m not ten years younger.

"Greg is 10 years younger than me almost to the day, he lives in my home town and when I heard he was going for it I was really pleased because I think he retired too early.

"He stopped well before his sell-by date and got a bit disillusioned with the Sydney Olympics - losing a bronze medal on a photograph is pretty tough to take at any stage.

"And he felt there were other things in his life he wanted to do.

"He went away and did America’s Cup sailing for a while, he got married, he’s got a young family, he works with Adrian Moorhouse in the Lane 4 company and he’s really enjoying that.

"But the draw of having a home Olympics was really too much for him, and I’m really pleased to see him giving it a go.

"Will it be tough getting on the team?


"Because British rowing is now so strong.

"If it was 10 years ago he would have been able to walk in and he would be one of the major players within the team, but of the12 British boats out of 14 qualifying for the Beijing Games, nine had medal potential and we won six medals.

"So you can’t just walk straight back in after having that sort of lay-off.

"The reality is Greg has been rowing every year and keeping himself fit but at a much lower level.

"It takes a while to build up from that level. 

"But Greg Searle fit and strong is going to be a benefit to anybody’s team."

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