Veteran Searle admits a lot has changed since Barcelona 1992
WHEN Greg Searle last competed at an Olympics Michael Phelps was a fresh-faced 15-year-old reaching a first Olympic final, Maurice Greene's 100m world record of 9.79 looked untouchable, and Jason Queally managed only Britain's second post-war cycling gold medal.
OLD HAND: Greg Searle will be in his 40s by the time the London 2012 Olympics get underway
Fast forward 11 years and Phelps has a record 14 Olympic golds to his name, Usain Bolt has run 9.58 and Britain managed eight gold medals in a single Games in Beijing.
Needless to say, a lot has changed, and 1992 Olympic champion Searle insists it's definitely for the better.
Searle won coxed pairs gold in Barcelona with brother Jonny and teary cox Garry Herbert and has been described by Sir Steve Redgrave as one of the three outstanding rowers of his generation along with Redgrave himself and quadruple Olympic champion Matthew Pinsent.
But despite the ringing endorsement of the five-time Olympic gold-medallist, Searle was unable to emulate his high-profile teammates, claiming bronze in the coxless fours at Atlanta 1996 and missing out on a medal altogether in Sydney four years later.
After a ten-year sabbatical the 39-year-old is back rowing for Britain, and he admits, it's a much-changed team from Redgrave and co.
"It's all very different from when I used to be part of the GB team," said Searle.
"Back then we would come in and do our races but we more or less stayed with our clubs most of the time.
"I would do most of my training with Molesey and they were who I regarded as my club.
"Now with the centre in Caversham it really feels like the GB team is my club and that is a big change.
"With the GB team now I really feel part of a squad which trains together throughout the year.
"Being able to train regularly with the guys you are going to compete with internationally is a huge advantage."
After ending his ten-year hiatus last year, Searle defied expectations by marking his return with a silver medal in the eight at the World Championships in Laka Karapiro.
And having been selected in the same boat for the first leg of the World Cup in Munich at the end of the month, Searle is eager to go one better in preparation for an assault on gold in 2012.
"Our training has gone well over the winter and I think we will be stronger going into this season," added Searle, who will be in his 40s by the time the Olympic circus rolls into London.
"We've made a couple of changes to the crew for the boat and hopefully that will make us quicker this year.
"We've been training together for about three weeks so we are beginning to get used to rowing as a crew.
"The eight is a boat that's been developing since 2009.
"It's nice for me to be back in the eight, before last year, my last attempt at rowing in this boat was back in 1990 and 1991.
"When it comes to London I will be happy to be in any of the boats, but I enjoy being part of the biggest boat in the team.
"Having spent so long out has definitely helped me.
"I'm very proud of what I have done in the meantime so I have no regrets, but it's great being back, and I hope I can add something to the team.
"I really want to have a positive influence on the crew."
© Sportsbeat 2011