James Cracknell OBE

James Cracknell OBE

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Olympic Hero & Adventurer

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After his partnership with Matt Pinsent, the double Olympic champion teamed up with Ben Fogle for a series of adventures. They rowed across the Atlantic and raced to the South Pole. In their next challenge (to run, swim and cycle across the States), James was very nearly killed by a truck. He endured a gruelling physical and neurological recovery – then took part in the coldest race on earth. James explains why we should all continue to test our limits.


James Cracknell is one of Britain’s greatest ever oarsmen. After victory alongside Redgrave and Pinsent in the coxless four in Sydney, he went on to achieve another Olympic gold in Athens.

Then, instead of retiring from competitive sport, James joined Ben Fogle for the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race. Despite having no previous ocean experience, they crossed 2,935 miles of lonely and often dangerous water between San Sebastien and Antigua, and were first to arrive after 49 torturous days at sea. James was then invited by the BBC to row the English Channel, cycle through France and Spain and swim the Straits of Gibraltar with the comedian David Walliams. It took a mere ten days to cover 1500 miles and raise £340,000 for Sport Relief. Another expedition ended in disaster when James was hit by a truck while attempting to run, swim and cycle across America. He went through a gruelling physical and neurological recovery period, but six months later he was running the Canadian Yukon - ‘the coldest race on earth.’

Other challenges include running the London Marathon, the New York Marathon and the Marathon des Sables, for which he beat the British record at the time. James also returned to university at the age of 46 to complete a masters at Cambridge where he entered the boat race and became the institution's oldest rower and winner in history. 

In speeches James talks about his adventures, the build-up to both Olympics and how they were nowhere near as straightforward as the public seemed to think. He reveals the highs and lows of his training regime, the different characters that make a successful team and what drives him to seek out new challenges.

TV credits include coverage of the Superbowl, the Rugby 7s in Hong Kong and the Boat Race, as well as appearing on the 17th series of Stricly Come Dancing. He also writes newspaper features on anything from Milan Fashion Week to surfing in Hawaii.

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