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Felix Drinkall: 'Privilege to race James Cracknell in Boat Race'

Drinkall: 'Privilege to race Cracknell in Boat Race'
© Reuters
Former Olympic champion James Cracknell is part of the Cambridge team.

Oxford rower Felix Drinkall says it will be a "privilege" to race against James Cracknell in Sunday's Boat Race, but is driven to deliver victory for his team.

Cracknell will become the oldest person to compete in the famous race after Cambridge selected him for the 2019 contest.

The 46-year-old, who won gold medals in the coxless four at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, is almost 25 years older than some of his team-mates and is studying for a philosophy degree at Cambridge.

Drinkall, who is the Oxford University Boat Club president, admired the Team GB great when he was learning the sport and is in awe of Cracknell's impressive longevity.

"It is amazing, it is a privilege to race against him," the 20-year-old told Press Association Sport.

"It is strange because I have always watched him when I was learning how to row.

Felix Drinkall (left) is looking forward to pitting himself against James Cracknell
Felix Drinkall (left) is looking forward to pitting himself against James Cracknell (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

"He is undoubtedly determined and has a lot of passion, I would love to be able to do something like that when I am 46, but I am not sure I will be able to.

"I am sure he adds a certain professionalism to their team and what it is to be in a quick boat but we are just trying to focus on ourselves and go as fast as we can."

Cracknell's inclusion in the Cambridge boat has given this year's Boat Race unprecedented attention, given his age and past achievements.

That might allow Oxford, trying to avenge defeats in 2016 and 2018, to slip under the radar, but Drinkall, studying a degree in Engineering Science, insists that is not the case.

"I don't think it is an advantage for us," he said. "They will be focused on the race.

"Everyone talking about James... I don't think it is an advantage to have all the focus on them."

Cambridge bow Tricia Smith has said the women's team have felt Cracknell's presence as they go for a third successive win.

Smith, whose grandfather, mother, father and brother have all studied at Cambridge, was selected for the first time last year, having had an unconventional recruitment process.

"I was at the first party in fresher's week and the captain cornered me and told me I had to row," she said. "I was drunk so said OK.

"I am hoping for another win. We just have to focus on what we can do, there is no point looking externally.

"It's not about getting the win it is about not getting the loss. The satisfaction you get really adds rose-tint to the season. Having the loss wouldn't be ideal, so the win is about continuing the streak."


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James Cracknell pictured in April 2015
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