Searle focused on amazing comeback

05 April 2012 / 08:20

Greg Searle's children just want a "normal dad," but there is nothing normal about British rowing's comeback quadragenarian as he targets a second Olympic gold medal 20 years after his first.

Searle, who turned 40 on March 20, has cemented his place in a powerful men's eight for the start of the Olympic season and a place at the London Games now looks certain. Stroking the boat will be Constantine Louloudis, who had only just been born when Searle won Olympic gold in 1992 with his brother, Jonny, and cox Garry Herbert.

Searle made his comeback in 2009 and is proud, given the strength in depth of British rowing, to have won the six seat in a boat with real gold medal potential. The Olympic eights final is on August 1 and the countdown is now on, both for Searle and his children, eight-year-old Adam and 11-year-old Josie.

"The real catalyst for my comeback was purely the opportunity and excitement of the London Olympics," Searle said.

"It has taken life choices and an enthusiasm for what I am doing and a recognition that what I am doing is very special.

"Each day I have chosen I will get eight hours' sleep. I will only drink water. On my 40th birthday I got up, I didn't see my kids, I didn't open any of the cards or presents. I came down here to the lake because I had important trialling and testing to do. The difficult choices are around my kids and not doing the things they want to do.

"My son Adam, who is eight, says he wants me to go in the garden to play football. I know I don't want to hurt my back or break a finger catching a cricket ball. He says 'I want you to be like a normal dad'. It is difficult. Last weekend I convinced him to come in and play darts - and then I fell asleep in his bed!

"August 1 is the day of the final. After then there are a lot of things to do that I have been putting off. I haven't been on holiday with my family for two and a half years. They go to Tenerife next week and I go on training camp. That is hard for them."

Searle decided to return in 2009 and was encouraged to do so by GB Rowing performance director David Tanner.

"He isn't as young as he was but he still has the exceptional ability he had at 20," Tanner said. "He's a link with the past but he still has to do the business today. He came through testing really, really well. He definitely brings weight to the boat because of what he's done and his confidence. He has always had charisma and he brings that to the boat."