In the summer of 1992, mid-way through the Olympic Games in Barcelona, on a lake just outside the city, two brothers were making waves as they set the world of rowing alight; from nowhere, and just when defeat was all but a certainty, they rowed from the back of the field through the twice Olympic champions and nine times World Champions, Italy, to win, by only a few feet, an Olympic Gold Medal in what was undoubtedly one of the most heroic Olympic efforts of all time.
Tucked away in the bows, their cox, Garry Herbert, inspired them to achieve what was a performance of a lifetime, and the medal ceremony that followed – tears and more tears – will forever be remembered as one of the most endearing moments of Olympic history. The following year the Searle brothers and Garry Herbert added the world championship title to their collection, this time leading from the front in an impressively executed race that saw them come of age, demonstrating the power of “mind over water”.
A successful cox is many things: first and foremost a successful leader and standard bear, a motivator, a coach and a mentor and sometimes visionary – akin is it not to the CEO within any corporation: But Garry's leadership skills were not taught from a lecture or learnt from a book, it is a story of truly amazing passion and commitment, determination and sacrifice, inspiration, daring and execution, and in the end personal choice: How a young team came together and performed beyond expectations. It illustrates the power of the inner self and how that power can tear down barriers, whether self imposed or otherwise, and how when all is goes black in the middle of a race the ability to give “just one more stroke” is the difference between Gold and nowhere, and that in the end comes down to mind over water.
The passion and leadership that drove the Searle brothers to gold was not to fade, as the principle commentator for BBC Sport at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, Garry brought the nation to the edge of their seats as first the men's coxless four, containing Sir Steven Redgrave, won a monumental Gold medal and the next day, the men's eight came pounding down the course to capture the first Gold medal in that event since 1912. “There cannot be any commentator in then world with more passion” (Chris Brasher, 2000).
Four years on and Garry was at it again in Athens 2004. This time calling the boys' home in the epic final of the Men's Coxless Fours, where Matthew Pinsent won his fourth Olympic Gold in race which required a photo finish to split Great Britain from Canada. Of Garry's commentary, Robert Philip of The Daily Telegraph wrote in August 2004: “Garry Herbert makes Murray Walker sound as though he is running on Mogadan”. The production team went on to win a BAFTA.
Awarded an MBE for services to rowing and part of the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year in 1992, Garry is not only place right at the heart of British rowing from where he has an exclusive insight into the success of the whole of British rowing, but the Olympic Games as a whole (including behind the scenes of BBC Sport), which has made him a successful and incisive motivational keynote speaker.
Garry, who had himself been inspired to row for Gold after watching Martin Cross's Olympic success on TV, was also, unwittingly, the inspiration behind Steve Williams' future Olympic rowing career and gold medal success in Athens and Beijing.
Using some of the most inspirational and exclusive Olympic film montage courtesy of the BBC Garry takes the audience on wonderful Olympic journey which never fails to inspire.
Garry is a Honary Life member of the Leander Club, Henley on Thames and Molesey Boat Club, Hampton. In his spare time Garry plays what he describes as “comedy” golf” and is a successful London Barrister.
"Your presentation and DVDs were informative and highly entertaining and your natural delivery ensured that everyone enjoyed it immensely...to keep such a large group of people enthralled was a true reflection of your Olympic persona." Accor Hotels on Garry Herbert who spoke at their annual general manager's conference.