Age no limit as victorious Cracknell makes Boat Race history
Rowing

Age no limit as victorious Cracknell makes Boat Race history

07 April 2019 / 15:18

It is almost 20 years since James Cracknell won the first of his two Olympic golds.

But the rower proved he has lost none of his competitive spirit or undoubted class by making history at the 165th Boat Race.

The 46-year-old, who became the race’s oldest-ever competitor, played a key part as Cambridge won in 16 minutes 57 seconds – two seconds ahead of rivals Oxford.

“At the start I thought: ‘I’ve missed this’,” he said.

“The first few minutes were great but they just didn’t drop. It was a humdinger all the way! It maybe wasn’t a 10/10 performance but it was pretty much an eight or a nine.

“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 won two Olympic golds in the men’s four, firstly in 2000 alongside Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and Tim Foster.

And then he repeated the feat in Athens four years later, along with Pinsent, Steve Williams and Alex Partridge.

Cracknell, who is studying a Masters in human evolution, retired from rowing in 2006 and has since undertaken adventures for charity – including a 1400-mile trip from Britain to Africa where he only rowed, cycled and swam.

But, after starting his degree, the most famous boat race was in the world was too tempting to ignore.

“Although I look quite fit and athletic, it’s just a lot less powerful,” he said.

“My legs are much thinner. Seventy per cent of the power in rowing comes from the legs and the shoulders – everything looks like I’ve had the water sucked out of me.

“I know what I weighed on the morning of the Olympics in 2004, and that was 95.7kg (15st 1lb). And then, at the Boat Race weigh-in I was 89kg (14st). 

“That is effectively a stone of muscle, really, which is quite useful in rowing.”

Cambridge controlled the race from the off and, despite a brief wobble, eased home by five lengths.

Sportsbeat 2019