Sir David Tanner CBE, the man behind British Rowing’s unprecedented years of success, is to step down as performance director after 21 years at the helm.
The 69-year-old has made his mark in the GB Rowing Team’s most successful period on the water, masterminding 27 medals at the Olympic Games – including 12 golds – since taking up the role in 1996.
Eight Paralympic crews have also won medals under his tenure, with both hauls greater than any other nation has mustered in the same period.
But his impact has also been felt out of the water too, introducing the World Class Start programme for talent identification in 2002, which has helped produce five of GB’s ten Olympic champions in London.
Sir David was also the driving force behind the establishment of the Redgrave/Pinsent Rowing Lake – named after the Olympic champions – and believes now is the correct time to take a break from the sport.
“This has not been an easy decision but one I have thought about for some time,” he said.
“I have had a fantastic journey as rowing’s performance director and I feel that now is the right time to step away leaving what I believe is a strong high performance programme behind me.”
British rowing history has been made plenty of times since Sir David’s appointment more than two decades ago, securing Team GB’s first Olympic women’s rowing medal in 2000.
And the first gold came 12 years later, with three pairs standing top of the podium at the home Games at London 2012.
Beyond this, Sir David has led a successful development programme of junior and under-23 rowers –taking his place as one of the most successful performance directors in the history of British sport.
British Olympic Association chairman, Sir Hugh Robertson, said: “I have known Sir David for over a decade during my time as Olympics Minister and Chairman of the BOA.
“Over that time, he has been one of the principal architects of this country’s Olympic success, driving the multiple achievements of rowing but also using his experience and expertise for the benefit of the whole high-performance system.”
The next person to fill the role will certainly have big shoes to fill, with a candidate brief set to be published in early January as British Rowing size up the task at hand.
Nearly 400 athletes have competed at World Championship, Olympic and Paralympic level with Sir David at the helm, receiving his knighthood from the Queen in 2013.
“Terms such as icon and legend are often overused and misrepresented but in the case of Sir David Tanner they are highly appropriate and justified,” said British Olympic Association chief executive, Bill Sweeney.
“Since coaching his first Olympic medal in 1980, his performance record and achievements speak for themselves. What is perhaps less known is his support, contribution, and guidance to Team GB and various sports team leaders across multiple Olympic Games.
“David’s intense competitive spirit and experience is much welcomed on Team GB delegations whether in preparation or during the pressured environment of Games time.
“While he may be stepping down from his current role at British Rowing we will be looking to retain his expertise and knowledge within the system.”