Andy Holmes with Sir Steve RedgraveNovember 24 - Senior figures in British rowing have said a fond farewell to double Olympic champion Andy Holmes, who died suddenly last month of suspected Weil's disease.

The congregation of family, friends and Olympic champions gathered at the big hall at Holmes' old school in Hammersmith, West London, where they heard he had gone too soon and that he may not be widely and fully appreciated as a great sportsman.

Holmes, 51, who rowed twice with Sir Steve Redgrave to Olympic triumph, had returned to the water after a 17-year break from the sport to teach at grass roots and was loving having just become a father again for the fifth time.

Martin Cross, who won gold with Holmes at the 1984 Olympics, was at the World Championships where Britain was the top rowing nation, when he heard about the death.

"One thing that was clear was the impact that Andy had, albeit at a distance, on the current British team," said Cross.

"None of them knew him in the sport apart from Greg Searle," he told the packed two-hour memorial at Latymer Upper School.

"I think it is very well-documented how tough Andy was and how rigorously he would put himself in to a rowing programme, frequently three sessions or so a day.

"He would turn up late for sessions because he was working on the fitness side and I do not think that in the early days people knew or realised how brilliant or focused he was.

"He would go full out - there was no easy route."

Cross said that this dedication and hard work ethic, along with the belief that he, and other British rowers, could beat the seemingly-invincible East German crews and one day dominate their discipline, is part of the legacy that Holmes has left British rowing.

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