SOFIA (Reuters) – China has targeted one Olympic rowing gold at the 2020 Games in Tokyo and two titles in Paris in 2024, the team’s first high performance director Steve Redgrave said.
Redgrave, who won five successive Olympic gold medals between 1984 and 2000, was handed the role last year.
Chinese officials said he would offer advice and try to improve the structure and methods at all levels of Chinese rowing as well as teaching local coaches.
“The Olympic Games in Tokyo are, of course, an important step in our strategy and China wants to win a gold Olympic medal there,” Redgrave said in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, which hosted the 2019 World Rowing Cup’s opening event last weekend.
“So far the country has only one Olympic title, won at home in 2008,” Redgrave, who retired after the Sydney 2000 Olympics, said.
China won the women’s quadruple sculls in Beijing and took two bronze medals at the Games in Rio in 2016.
“So, the first goal now is to win gold at the Olympics outside China but the main goal is two titles in Paris in 2024,” the 57-year-old Redgrave said.
China took a large team to Plovdiv and finished top of the World Cup points table for the first time.
The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of three regattas over the year.
Redgrave said rowing was at a “crucial point” with the men’s lightweight four being removed from the Olympic regatta as part of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) move towards gender equality.
The IOC also aims to reduce the number of athletes competing at the Games and there will be just two lightweight classes in Tokyo next year – the men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls.
“We’ve always been pressed against the wall but we should not lose our positions,” said Redgrave.
“There are a lot of challenges ahead of us and I hope that the World (Rowing) Federation will be able to cope with them and protect rowing’s image in the Olympic family.”
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Toby Davis)