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74OLYMPIC REVIEWMY GAMESWhen I won my first gold medal, it took mea long time - days and even months -before I realised that I was an Olympicchampion. I was too young and did not realise theresponsibility that I had. All I wanted to do was win.Before the final in Melbourne in 1956, I bought apostcard of the lake where we were racing and askedthe other competitors to sign it as a souvenir. John Kellysigned it, Teodor Kocerka signed it, but when StuartMacKenzie signed it he put a number '1' next to hisname, implying that he would win the race.That made me angry and so I wanted to row fasterthan I normally would. Usually I would start my finalsprint 250m or 300m before the finish line, but here I was so angry that I started my final sprint with 500mto go. When I finished the race I looked back and sawthat MacKenzie was far, far away. Later I found out thatthe gap was more than five seconds. So that is a goodtip to all athletes - don't make your competitors angry!When I saw MacKenzie again recently, we laughedabout it and he asked for the postcard so he couldchange the '1' to a '2'!Of course, as soon as I won that first gold medal Iwanted to defend my title four years later. The feeling inRome was completely different though. MacKenziewanted to re-establish his reputation, but pulled out ofthe competition before the race due to illness. I wasvery disappointed, but it meant I didn't need to race with the same speed - it was easy.My third Games, in Tokyo, were nearly a disaster for me. I had a boat especially customised for me by a company in Britain, but when it was shipped fromRussia to Japan it got held up in the docks and onlyarrived one day before the preliminary race and it had a crack in it. The specialists worked on it all night but it wasn't ready in time for the race, so I had to use a different boat, which wasn't suited to my size andweight. I couldn't win in that boat so decided to save myenergy and qualify for the final through the repechage.Two days later my boat was ready and in therepechage I set a record time for the course andqualified for the final. I was confident that I would winthe final, but after 1,000m Achim Hill was one boat-length ahead of me. I thought that was fine, but I wastoo relaxed and at the 1,500m point, he was winning by a few lengths, so I had to repeat the so-called'Melbourne finish' and sprint for the line. Each Olympic Games was very different. Thecountries were different, the competitors were differentand the organisation was different. Melbourne was my favourite Games because it was the most difficult.That is the medal that I am most proud of, although I am proud of them all. ?RightIvanov also won gold in the single sculls atthe first ever World Rowing Championships in 1962MYGAMESVYACHESLAVIVANOVROWING FOR THE SOVIET UNION, VYACHESLAV IVANOV BECAME THE FIRST MAN TO WIN THE SINGLE SCULLSEVENT THREE TIMES AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES, SECURING GOLD IN MELBOURNE, ROME AND TOKYOINTERVIEW:KATHLEEN DI GIACOMOMELBOURNE 1956Gold: Single scullsROME 1960Gold: Single sculls TOKYO 1964Gold: Single sculls