(Reuters) - Cambridge beat Oxford by two seconds to win the 165th men’s Varsity boat race on the River Thames on Sunday with double Olympic champion James Cracknell rowing himself into the record books as part of the victorious crew.
At the age of 46, Cracknell became the oldest person to compete in the race as Cambridge held off a late Oxford surge on the home stretch to win in a time of 16 minutes 57 seconds.
Cambridge had pulled ahead at the start and had a half-length lead at the mile mark despite a clash of oars. They then quickly extended their advantage to four seconds when they passed under the Hammersmith Bridge.
“On the start I thought: ‘I’ve missed this’,” Cracknell told the BBC. “The first few minutes were great but they just didn’t drop.
“To be honest the endurance wasn’t a problem. If I had any doubt it would have been my sprinting. I just made sure I stuck it in and hopefully we had enough in the bank.”
It was a victorious return to the water for Cracknell, who had retired from competitive rowing in 2006 but qualified for the event because he is studying for a Master of Philosophy degree in human evolution at Cambridge.
Cambridge also comfortably won their third successive women’s race earlier in the day with a time of 18 minutes 47 seconds, 17 seconds ahead of Oxford.
Cambridge’s men extended their head-to-head record to 84-80 while the women lead 44-30.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon