Four years, 26 training camps, three World Championships and one Olympic games later, and the 18,000-piece jigsaw puzzle presented to the Olympic Rowing Team by Ravensburger has been finished.
Measuring three metres by two metres, the puzzle, Four Historic Maps, will be framed and hung at the team's UK training headquarters in Caversham.
Debbie Flood, a member of the Women’s Quadruple Scull Silver medal team in Athens and coordinator of the Puzzle Challenge (pictured left), said: “Four years ago, we were looking for something relaxing to occupy ourselves during the sweltering hot afternoons of the Athens Olympics.
“We saw a magazine article about this 18, 000 piece puzzle which we thought would be ideal. We approached Ravensburger, the puzzle makers, who very generously donated the puzzle to the team. Of course, we thought we’d easily complete it by the close of the 2004 Olympics - how wrong we were.
“Determined not to be defeated, we vowed to finish the puzzle by the Christmas of 2004 but this was not to be either. We’ve been trying to finish it ever since and to be honest we’ve developed a bit of a Love-Hate relationship with it.
”It has accompanied us to every one of our training camps and every time it is unpacked it’s a reminder of our failure to finish it. On the other hand, when we complete another section it gives us all a huge amount of satisfaction.
“I suppose we shall miss it on our training camps but we are jolly glad to have completed it in advance of Beijing.”
Clive Richardson, marketing manager at Ravensburger (pictured centre), added: “Our 18,000 piece puzzles are quite a challenge even for the most experienced puzzle fans but we’ve never heard of someone persevering for four years - it has to be a sign of the team’s determination to win. “