Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

James Cracknell stars for Cambridge to become oldest Boat Race winner

Englishman, 46, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010 when fracturing his skull in a cycling accident in Arizona only to battle back to full health

British rower James Cracknell, third from left, of team Cambridge celebrates with teammates after beating Oxford in the Boat Race on the River Thames in London. AFP
British rower James Cracknell, third from left, of team Cambridge celebrates with teammates after beating Oxford in the Boat Race on the River Thames in London. AFP

James Cracknell anticipates a heavy bump back down to "real life" after becoming the oldest-ever Boat Race winner at age 46.

The double Olympic gold medal winner powered Cambridge to a third win in four years in the 165th Boat Race, then conceded the void that follows will prove "empty".

Cracknell suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010 when fracturing his skull in a cycling accident in Arizona only to battle back to full health, while just last week he confirmed the end of his marriage to Beverley Turner.

On the start I thought 'I've missed this'," Cracknell told the BBC.

"The first few minutes were great, but they just didn't drop. To be honest the endurance wasn't a problem.

"If I had any doubt it would have been my sprinting. I just made sure I stuck it in and hopefully we had enough in the bank."

Cracknell conceded more than 25 years on some of his teammates, but belied his age to leave friends and former colleagues in awe.

Cracknell's fellow former Olympian Pinsent said: "It's extraordinary that he's got himself into the shape, at 46, of a 24 year old.

"I only know one person who could do that, and it's James. It's just off the scale.

"In the history of the Boat Race, no one will ever do that again; absolutely no way.

"In that hospital in Phoenix, if you'd said he would win the Boat Race, at that point he was doing well to walk again.

It was day of double celebration for Cambridge, who won the Women's Boat Race for the third year in succession, beating Oxford by five lengths.

Cambridge appeared close to a record time at the halfway stage, but eventually clocked 18 minutes and 47 seconds, some 14 seconds behind their winning time in 2017.

Cambridge stroke Lily Lindsay has rowed internationally for the USA, but insisted nothing compared to a Boat Race victory.

"There's nothing like this," Lindsay told the BBC.

"Training alongside my teammates has been unbelievable. It's been a pleasure."

Updated: April 7, 2019 08:38 PM

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