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TM 74OLYMPIC REVIEWwww. olympic. org/ athletes MY GAMES W hen I was growing up I just wanted to be good at something and I thought mostly about becoming an engineer. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I really discovered what rowing was, and, at 15, I got into a boat for the first time. When I saw the Danish team at the 1988 Games I began to dream about becoming an Olympian straight away. Studying physiology at Copenhagen University helped me to learn about the body and I trained very hard. By the time of the Atlanta Games, rowing had become such a huge part of my life, and the combination of it being my first Olympic experience, achieving our goals and meeting other Danish and international athletes made it a truly unforgettable experience. Being in the spotlight and focus of the world is an incredible feeling. There were big expectations for us to succeed but the most pressure came from ourselves because we knew that we had the ability to win. It was the first time that the lightweight fours was raced in the Games and we faced competition from Canada and the USA but we were strong enough to hold them off in the final. As rowers, we are lucky because our event is often completed early in proceedings so that we can concentrate on enjoying the remainder of the Games and supporting the rest of the Danish team. In 2004 I was very proud to carry the Danish flag at the Opening Ceremony - especially as I thought this was to be my last Games - but my main focus was always on winning the races that were to come. Even as I walked around the stadium with the flag, soaking up the atmosphere, I was still thinking about the actual competition that lay ahead. The focus paid off because we won back our title, which we had lost in Sydney when we only came third in the final. Having decided against retirement to race one more time - or so I said at the time! - in Beijing, I was more relaxed going into that and didn't feel the same pressure I had in Athens. I took in the whole experience around the Olympic Village and the city as well as my event. As defending champions we were favourites and in the final we led from start to finish to win the gold. What I remember most about these Games is that everywhere we went there were Chinese volunteers to help us - there seemed to be millions of them! Their enthusiasm was quite remarkable. The Olympic Games is so special, there is so much more attention and wherever the Games go, they become the centre of the world for a short time. You are not only part of a rowing team but one of the Danish team, and there are so many people that share a fantastic camaraderie and create a phenomenal atmosphere. We had some good parties too! Having retired again after Beijing, I am not competing at present but I am keeping myself in good shape and have not made a final decision about 2012 yet. ¦ RightEbbesen ( front) celebrates winning a third Olympic gold medal in Beijing last year MYGAMES ESKILDEBBESEN THE DANISH ROWER RECALLS THE HIGHLIGHTS OF A CAREER THAT SAW HIM WIN THREE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS OVER FOUR EDITIONS OF THE GAMES 2008 BEIJING Gold: Lightweight coxless fours 2004 ATHENS Gold: Lightweight coxless fours 2000 SYDNEY Bronze: Lightweight coxless fours 1996 ATLANTA Gold: Lightweight coxless fours INTERVIEW: TOM POUNTNEY