Pinsent: Aussie complaints 'a bit rich'

EXCLUSIVE: Olympic rowing legend Sir Matthew Pinsent has laughed off criticism of Team GB’s perceived home advantages, suggesting Australia had the exact same leverage at the 2000 Games.

Eurosport

Australia have been joined by Germany, the Netherlands and the United States in planned protests to rowing’s governing body the FISA over shorter travel times and priority waterway access they feel Great Britain will enjoy.

But Pinsent, whose four Olympic gold medals included success in Sydney in the Coxless Four, found the complaints empty given his experiences away from the United Kingdom.

He told Eurosport: “It’s a bit rich for Australia to complain about the home advantage, to be honest.

“During the 2000 Games in Sydney, our team had to use a bus service to get around while the Australian athletes did not.

“It isn’t the sort of thing you allow to bother you when you are focused on what you are trying to accomplish.”

“I know there are several countries protesting the travel arrangements but it’s ironic that Australia are one of them.”

The protests come one month after similar complaints from Australia's men's hockey coach Ric Charlesworth, who accused Olympic schedulers of 'lumbering' his national side with three early starts in their round-robin matches.

Pinsent feels the rumblings come from those behind the scenes more so than those who will actually be competing in London, and expects the issue to have little bearing on the rowing events themselves.

“Things like that are likely the last thing on the mind of many of the Australian athletes,” he added.

“They are world class competitors who are too disciplined to be distracted by things like that.

“I have stayed in some truly dreadful accommodation over the years and found myself in many undesirable scenarios, but it’s not the kind of thing an Olympian should be allowing to bother them.

“If this is an attempt at a mind game, I’d imagine it would not be the sort of thing that will rattle the British athletes heading into the Olympics.”

Though the 41-year-old, who has worked as a sports reporter and presenter following his retirement in 2004, does not feel there is an unfair edge to home advantage, he nonetheless remains optimistic that Team GB can rise to the occasion and improve upon their impressive haul four years ago in China.

“I definitely believe that we can do better than in Beijing,” he said.

“Not just in terms of improving results and turning silver and bronze medals into golds, but also the number of medals we pick up.

“It’s a bit of a brave call, but a lot of our athletes in a variety of sports are coming on strong at the right time.

“We are strong in rowing and cycling, and in swimming and athletics we will also do well so that is our big group of medal hopes.

“In addition, there is a second tier of events that we should do very well in. This includes equestrian, boxing, taekwondo, judo, modern pentathalon, triathalon and canoeing.

“The important thing is that both individuals and teams are all prepared to raise their game when the time comes, and if that happens I think Britain will do better than four years ago.”

Sir Matthew also expressed his disappointment in the taekwondo selection situation, with world number one Aaron Cook controversially omitted.

“The whole turn of events has been poorly handled by GB Taekwondo,” Pinsent explained.

“It’s sad for Aaron and also for Lutalo Muhammad, who they have selected to replace him.

“It should have been flagged up a long time ago at the earliest possible opportunity rather than having Cook believe he was in as recently as April, only to be cast out two months later.

“Nonetheless, we have good fighters and I expect the taekwondo squad to do well.

“Whoever does eventually represent Great Britain, I have no doubt they will perform to the very best of their abilities.”

As the official airline partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB, British Airways is rallying the nation to give our athletes the best #HomeAdvantage

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