Olympic rower James Cracknell to stand as Tory candidate in next election

The gold-medal winner will run in Colchester after current Conservative incumbent is to stand down

The Olympic gold-winning rower James Cracknell will stand as a Conservative candidate at the next general election.

The rowing champion will run in Colchester, where the incumbent Conservative MP Will Quince is to stand down.

The Tories currently hold a 9,000 majority ahead of Labour in the Essex constituency, with the leader of the Conservatives’ group on the city council, Paul Dundas, predicting victory for the Olympian.

“James was the clear choice of members,” he said. “I think he will be a fantastic candidate and a great MP for Colchester. He will win because he is a guy who doesn’t do losing.”

Quince first won the seat at the 2015 general election, before holding it in 2017 and 2019.

Cracknell, who topped a long list of applicants for the candidacy, has been linked with the Tories over a number of years. In 2014, he stood to be an MEP for the party in the European elections in south-west England.

Cracknell and his coxless four crew won gold in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic games and in 2019 he became the oldest person to compete in the boat race, representing Cambridge against Oxford.

In 2006 Cracknell and the 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 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.

Speaking to the Mirror in 2015, he said: “My kids had one dad for six years and another for the last five; it was very difficult for them to come to terms with.

“The accident is something that happened to me, but I’m not going to let it define me – in the same way, the Olympics is something I did but that’s not all I am.”


Tom Ambrose

The GuardianTramp

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