Martin Cross |

2000 Olympics men’s pairs final: it was a tactic that blew the race apart

In a new series celebrating some of the most dramatic Olympic and Paralympic finals since 2000, Martin Cross selects his top races, reliving the experience with athletes involved. For the first one, let’s rewind to 2000 when the Olympic Games were hosted by Sydney in Australia

The Olympic men’s pairs final at the 2000 Sydney Games is remembered for the incredible courage of the French crew. France’s Jean-Christophe Rolland and Britain’s pair of Greg Searle and Ed Coode reflect on that race with Martin Cross

Some Olympic finals, like the men’s four at the 2004 Games in Athens, become iconic because the race was so close and the British victory over the Canadians was only secured by the narrowest of margins. Others like the Barcelona coxed pairs final in 1992 are unforgettable because of a fabulous sprint finish from the British that overhauled Italy’s apparently unassailable lead.

The Sydney pairs final on Saturday, 23 September 2000 is different, mostly because of what the French pair of Jean-Christophe Rolland and Michel Andrieux decided to do in the middle of the race.

In an inspired moment – the like of which this correspondent has not seen before or since – they began their sprint for the finish from just before the 1,000m mark. It was a tactic that blew the race apart. A race which was, until then, being led by the impressive British pair of Greg Searle and Ed Coode. The British favourites not only lost their lead, but – cruelly – also had to forgo a medal, as the Americans and Australians, rowed them down. 

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