Sir Steve Redgrave hails British rowers' performance at Worlds

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave has hailed Britain's record-breaking performance in the World Rowing Championships in Slovenia.

Britain topped the medal table with a record 14 medals overall and secured qualification for next year's Olympics for 13 out of 14 boats.

The GB team won medals in 10 Olympic classes in Bled, with three gold, three silver and four bronze, while the international classes and the Paralympic classes also delivered two golds apiece.

"We have never qualified this many boats before, so to have 13 already through to 2012 is amazing," Redgrave told BBC Sport.

"We are not far off and home advantage in London makes us the team to beat."

Frances Houghton, who has been injured for much of the year, was the only British rower not to qualify her boat, but Redgrave remained confident Britain will have the full complement in 2012.

"We were hoping to qualify all 14 boats for the Olympic Games but unfortunately we missed out on one place - the women's single scull.

"But there is still the possibility that we can still qualify the single next year, four weeks before the Games."

Britain's rowers won two gold, two silver and two bronze in Beijing four years ago and the portents look good to improve on that tally at London 2012. But while rowers in some classes can now just focus on peaking for next summer, others face an ongoing battle for selection.

The failure of Andy Hodge and Peter Reed to beat the Kiwis in 14 races in the men's pair, for example, suggests head coach Jurgen Grobler could shift the duo into the coxless four, in turn reshuffling the eight.

And despite the success in Bled, Redgrave insists the Great Britain team still have work to do.

"Overall, the British team have performed to the highest level, topping the overall medal table by a long way," added Redgrave, who won nine world gold medals between 1986 and 1999.

"But in the table that counts - the Olympic classes - they have just slipped behind New Zealand. The Kiwis won four golds to our three.

"Four years ago, New Zealand headed into the Olympic Games topping the Worlds medal list and performed badly in Beijing."

GB performance director David Tanner hailed the medal return as "outstanding", but also warned against complacency.

"If we wanted cream on our cake here, this was the day," said Tanner.

"But we must not get carried away. Yes, we've had a good event with some truly exceptional performances of which we can be justifiably proud but so, too, have Germany and New Zealand.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground. We need to go into the Olympic year with confidence but not thinking somehow we are going to have a gift because it is London."

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