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Knighthood for Tanner

December 29, 2012 00:13 am

David Tanner, who has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's New Year Honours, was successful at Britain's darkest Olympics and the brightest.

Tanner was rowing's senior team manager when Sir Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent won Britain's only gold medal of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

In London, at his eighth Games, Tanner's charges claimed nine medals, four of them gold, as once again Britain finished as the most successful Olympic rowing nation.

On the fourth day of the Games, August 1, Heather Stanning and Helen Glover claimed the nation's first of 29 Olympic gold medals in the women's pair at Eton Dorney, just a few hours before cyclist Bradley Wiggins struck gold a few miles away at Hampton Court Palace.

History was made as Britain won Olympic gold on home soil for the first time since 1948 and a first female rowing gold medal.

More followed - for Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins in the double sculls and Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking in the lightweight sculls.

The men's title came in the four, through Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory.

"We waited 12 years for a first British female rowing gold and then three came at once in London," said Tanner, who will also be celebrating his 65th birthday on Saturday.

It is Tanner who has led the transformation from Atlanta to London over 16 years.

He was appointed performance director in 1996 and five years later British Rowing announced its plan for a centralised training venue.

Five years later, Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake and Sheriff Boathouse were officially opened in Caversham, creating a centre of excellence for Britain's best rowers.

From three medals in Sydney to four in Athens, six arrived in Beijing and a total of nine in London, Tanner has played a part in them all.

Tanner's focus has been on talent identification. His Start programme produced five of Britain's 10 Olympic champions in London.

The former teacher has been coaching rowing for more than 30 years - he coached the 'Ealing Four' from schoolboy level to world medals and Olympic bronze in 1980 - but he has stayed at the pinnacle of the sport as a trailblazer and has now been awarded for his longevity and success.

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