Olympic champion rower Steve Redgrave launches sport science kits at Bow school

Five times Olympic Gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave showed off his lung capacity to pupils this morning as he launched sports science kits at a school in Bow.

The super fit retired English rower was at St Paul’s Way Trust School, which specialises in science, to launch the kits, inspired by this summer’s Olympics.

The kits which will be distributed to every school in the UK, to help pupils understand how the human body works, include body pressure monitors and oximeters to measure pulse rates and oxygen.

Sir Redgrave told students: “When I was at school I thought science was boring and dull, but the one lesson that stayed with me was when our teacher brought the science to life through an experiment. I owe much of my Olympic success to a scientific understanding of my body.”

The six ft and five ins tall champion, weighing about 16 st and 220 lb, explained that rowers tend to be quite tall with large lungs, so they can fuel their muscles to move the boat with their bodies. To demonstrate his lung capacity he blew into a long tape-measure plastic bag.

But he also showed that height is not necessarily an advantage for long jumps, where power in the air is more significant, by taking on pupils from nearby Marner Primary School, who came over for the launch.

Cheeky year-one pupil Dennis Nelson said: “You’re too big, I’ll beat you. But with a 207 centimetre jump Sir Redgrave saved himself from embarrassment with Dennis jumping 153 centimetres.

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After meeting Sir Redgrave St Paul’s Way Trust pupil, Kulsuma Begum said: “He knew what he wanted and has been through it all. And even if you are planning to go down a different route, such as university, it was so inspiring to meet him. He was so nice.”

The school in St Paul’s Way, one of the 20 most improved schools in England this year, was picked for Sir Redgrave’s visit because of its proximity to the Games.

Around 30,000 are being donated to primary and secondary schools across the country by charitable foundation The Welcome Trust.