Suddenly,Andy Holmes, a successful young Olympian just disappeared off the map. Two Olympic gold medals and a brilliant rowing future lay ahead with one of the worlds greatest oarsman, Steven Redgrave and suddenly it was all over. Why ? I've always admired Steve but at the same time, I could not forget the faces of the brilliant 1984 rowing four who swept the board in Los Angeles. Steven and Andy seemed to have a Golden future in front of them. The pair seemed all set for a medal hungry future. Now we get a chance in Cross's book to allow Steven's one time rowing partner to put his side of the story. How could a man hide away 2 Olympic medals in his loft and not tell his daughter about his 'glory days'.In the manner of the telling, Cross has impressively set out Andy's side of the story after 17 years and let his story be finally told before being put to rest along with Holmes's hard won yet undisplayed medals. Chapter after chapter seem to bring back to life the personal biographies of men and women who were passionate about rowing,and how they were shaped and moulded by one of the most demanding, yet truly amateur sports before it became forever the inevitable sacred cow of the media manipulation and hype. Golden days, gone forever, but brought back to life in 14 lluminating and page-turning chapters by one of rowing's longest serving, and well-known sportsman. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
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This work is not purely an autobiography, nor a collection of biographies, nor a set of reminiscences, nor a chronological history of Cross's time in rowing. Instead it contains 14 chapters, each examining both a different facet of the sport and a different personality in rowing, making comparisons with his own experiences and the difficulties they both had to overcome. We get to see into the personalities and character making experiences of many of the usual suspects, e.g. Steve, Matt and Tim, plus the Searle brothers (each with their own chapter) and Andy Holmes, and also faces less known to the general public, e.g. Miriam Batten and coaches Harry Mahon and Mike Teti, and even names not well known to the rowing community at large such as Anita de Franz. There are a couple of detractions to this work. As a card-carrying Labour party member, Cross will start waving the Red Flag at the drop of a hat. Particularly annoying is that he has a long rant about the Moscow boycott claiming that such things have no effect, then goes on to justify the sporting boycott of South Africa. You can't have it both ways, Mr Cross. Appallingly incorrect spellings of many proper names used is totally inexcusable. Did Cross not give a proof copy to any of his rowing chums? Finally, the book in general seems to come right up to date to when it was published, and in the light of this it is inexcusable I think that the book does not carry the news of the death of Harry Mahon, and a fuller tribute to his influence. Would give it 5 stars, being a well thought out, well constructed and fascinating insight, but 4 stars only because of these gripes.
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Fascinating insight into the issues going on behind the scenes of high level sport. We sometimes forget that our sporting heroes are also people, with the same difficulties as the rest of us, but the added complication of high level sport. Martin's book puts the reader right in the middle of it. An excellent read.
Great insights to the real stories, challenges, failures and successes of the GB rowing over the last 20 years. MC brings to life the harsh realities of elite sport. A must read for coaches and participants!!!