Tom James MBE

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Double Gold Medalist

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Tom was a part of the gold medal-winning coxless fours in Beijing, and again in London. In both races the British convincingly beat their Australian rivals. Plagued with injury throughout his career, Tom has had to endure back, hip and heart operations – and the challenge of fitting in with separate crews. He describes the pressure of working in an environment where success was not just demanded but assumed, the stresses of training and the elation of winning.


Tom James is an Olympic gold medal winning member of the coxless fours rowing team that won in 2008 in Beijing and again at London 2012.

Taking up rowing whilst at Cambridge University, Tom became a ‘Blue’ and took part in four Oxford-Cambridge boat races over five years (taking one year away from his engineering degree for the Athens Olympics). At Athens, Tom was a member of the eights crew, which performed disappointingly despite having won bronze at the previous year’s World Championships.

Tom rowed as a pair and in fours before being selected for the British team where a last minute substitution saw him back in the eights and winning another World Championship bronze. Further competition wins secured Tom a Beijing Olympics place where he took on the coxless fours. After an injury-plagued run-up, Tom and his team dominated the rounds leading up to the final. In that race, the Australians looked a certainty to win, but a dramatic push in the late stages of the race saw the British team take gold beating the Australians by just over a second.

Despite more injuries and a late change to the fours line-up, Tom and his fellow oarsmen repeated their feat on the home territory of the London 2012 Olympics. They convincingly beat their Australian rivals once again to become double gold medalists and continuing the rowing success established by the likes of Redgrave, Pinsent and Cracknell.

Tom speaks about the disappointment of losing, his fight back from injury (including back, hip, and heart operations), the pressure of participating in a team where success was virtually assumed, and the challenges of fitting together two separate pairs. He engagingly talks about the dedication and focus success requires, the stresses of training and the elation of winning.

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