16 Nov

James Cracknell, 46, rows himself into the Boat Race record books

first_imgShare via Email The Observer … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Facebook I wasn’t just fit and healthy because of my sport – it’s always been something I’ve done to make the most of my lifeJames Cracknell Since you’re here… The same year he also completed the Yukon Arctic Ultra – a 430-mile bike slog across northern Canada, in which he finished second. He has also run the London marathon four times, finishing in 2017 in an impressive 2:43:12.But his exploits have not been without personal risk. In 2010, Cracknell fractured his skull when he was knocked off his bike by a lorry in Arizona as he attempted to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York.He suffered bruising to the brain and memory loss, and has talked about how the accident altered his personality.However, Cracknell said the urge to push himself to his limits brought rewards. “I wasn’t just fit and healthy because of my sport – it’s always been something that I’ve done to make the most of my life and as you get older it’s more important to be able to enjoy your kids, your grandkids. If you invest in your health, you’ll enjoy your life later.” Support The Guardian Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on WhatsApp Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you Cracknell, who is more than a quarter of a century older than some of his fellow crew – and eight years older than the previous record holder, Andy Probert, Cambridge’s cox in 1992 – said he understood the focus on his age. But he pointed out that he is not alone: an increasing number of sports stars are now stretching their careers.“I’m old in one sense, but 40 is the new 30 in the way we live our lives. Professional footballers, cyclists, marathon runners and tennis players are all getting older and in that respect 45 is more like 35. That’s how I look at it. Sport is hard, and hard on your body, but you have to after look after yourself to live life to the full.”Cracknell has won two Olympic gold medals – at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 – and six golds at world rowing championships between 1997 and 2002, but he counts this race up there with his previous challenges.“Getting selected for the race has meant as much to me as being selected for the Olympics. And in terms of the Olympics I raced in the first one we were expected to win and that was a real relief, but the second one was more special because we hadn’t raced together because of injury and we had to dig really deep to beat the world champions. I honestly don’t know where we rank against Oxford until we get there. If it’s a humdinger race, we’ll have to dig really, really deep and ask ourselves tough questions.”Cracknell’s preparation for the race comes at a time of personal anguish. It emerged last week that he had split from his wife of 17 years, the television presenter Beverley Turner, with whom he has three children.After the split was confirmed, Cracknell tweeted: “It has been a tough few days, but I’m focused on winning this Sunday.” His participation in Sunday’s Boat Race – he is doing a master’s in human evolution at Peterhouse – is the latest twist in a post-Olympics career that has seen him migrate from professional sportsman to adventurer.In 2006 Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle rowed across the Atlantic in 49 days. Three years later the pair joined with Ed Coats to come second in the 481-mile Amundsen Omega 3 race to the South Pole.In April 2011, Cracknell became the then highest-placed Briton in the 25-year history of the Marathon des Sables ultra marathon, finishing 12th.center_img news Rowing Olympic Games Share on Twitter The Boat Race Reuse this content Olympic gold-winning rower James Cracknell is expected to make history on Sunday when, at 46, he becomes the oldest person to compete in the Boat Race, representing Cambridge against Oxford.And yet, despite his years of experience, Cracknell admits to feeling far from calm ahead of the race.“It’s so different from any event I’ve done,” he said. “I grew up in west London. I lived within half a mile of the finish for 10 years and yet the place is going to be unrecognisable, so I imagine I’ll feel really nervous.” Read more Share on Messenger Topics Read more Boat Race 2019: Cambridge cruise to double victory – as it happenedlast_img read more