Tuesday, April 10, 2012


As possibly the worst member of the most heavily-beaten Isis (reserve) crew a couple of decades ago, I feel strangely motivated to comment on recent events, though obviously all the good jokes have already been taken - perhaps the best being Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5 invoking the ghost of the Mumbai attacks in a desperate attempt to talk up the significance of the occasion. It must surely be the first time that one of the crews has proved themselves to be fastest on the day not just once, but twice, and still lost. However, the fault for that must be placed squarely at the hands of the cox who seemed to take the concept of rowing through the opposition a little too literally. Breaking a blade was bad luck of course - I was once in a boat that managed to achieve this, but it took a head-on collision at full speed, so I'm not really sure how it could have happened with a simple clash.

As for that middle-aged colonial with a degree in "contemporary urbanism" and dodgy taste in facial hair, it seems like he already has most of the attributes that are required for a place in one of the boats. Apart from the ability, intelligence, and determination, that is.


Carl C said...

I was disappointed the protestor of elitism went to LSE, it seems a graduate of Thames Valley University or similar would have been better. But I found the funniest thing in the whole event the Oxford rower who's in his tenth year at the uni (presumably to stay on the rowing team)!

Also oddly the BBC link to the video works in the US, have they relaxed their online vids or is this just to show how important this race is and must be shared with the world?

guthrie said...

Personally, I was wondering why it suddenly threw Olympic security into doubt. Which press officer/ security company bod/ excitable journalist thought that one up?

The only way you can stop nutters is by a 20ft electric fence and security guards every 50 ft. The only way to stop terrorists is to ban people from going near the river and shoot anyone who does, as well as searching it for mines and suchlike in the weeks and days before the event.
Thus some nutter going for a swim has no real meaning for security for the Olympics.

James Annan said...


I think this page may work worldwide. The camera shot is pretty useless but the umpire's shouting is clear enough!


I actually have a proxy set up for BBC and stayed up to watch it live.

guthrie, well it's the same sort of mentality that has us taking our shoes off at USA airports..

Given how hard it is to kill swans, it might have been best just to keep rowing. I'm sure he would have been happy to wear a black eye or broken nose as a symbol of his class war.

Harold said...

As a former coxswain, I agree it was the cox's fault. She had been warned several times, including just before the oar breaking.

As far as the US video working, the race was shown live on BBC America, so that may be why it's available.

William M. Connolley said...

Agreed; utter fuck-up by the Oxford cox; had loadsa warnings. Nothing to do with the swimmer.

Were you Isis? I'll have to be more respectful in the future :-)

Harold said...

Sorry, James, just college level (Wolfson) at Cambridge.

Another telling moment about the cox listening to umpire is that Cambridge stopped much quicker when umpire instructed them after the swimmer.

James Annan said...

Yes, must have been 1993 vintage, the year the blue boat lost despite having two Olympic champions in the boat. And I won a modest sum of money for predicting that result, which would not have been a surprise for anyone who had seen them rowing, but was not reflected in the generous odds :-)

We weren't all that bad, actually - more or less equalled the course record (for the reserves), at least we would have done if only the other boat hadn't just lowered it by 30 seconds!

Probably the best bit of the whole experience is the feeling of stopping all that training...even now, I can't hear the phrase "no more early mornings" without breaking into a smile.

It was only my 6th year as a student there, so I hope Carl can find it in his heart to forgive me :-)

Carl C said...

What is the "10 year plan" at Oxford? I assumed it was a cynical ploy to keep the rowers on board. 4 years undergrad, 4 years post grad, 2 years medical residency/postdoc? I don't think any other sporting group would allow that. Oh well, Oxford turned me from an anglophile to an anglophobe - love the town, hate the "gown"....

James Annan said...

I think that 10y guy was a medic (6y) with a DPhil to follow, or something like that. It's always been open to grad students and, to be fair, most of them seemed fairly genuine students, just with a rather obsessive hobby. 20y ago the "Diploma of Social Studies" was a popular option for holidaying Americans, particularly at my college...