James Cracknell slams GB rowers after disappointing Olympics showing

James Cracknell launched a seething tirage at the structure of rowing in the country as he struggled to come to terms with the worst British Olympics performance since 1976

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James Cracknell has slammed Team GB’s rowing squad for a ‘lack of leaders’ after their underwhelming medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics.

Cracknell, a former Olympic rower who won gold in 2000 and 2004, launched a seething tirage at the structure of rowing in the country as he struggled to come to terms with the worst British Olympics performance since 1976.

Team GB took home just one silver and one bronze medal from Tokyo, in comparison with hauls of five in Rio and nine in London.

Writing in The Telegraph, Cracknell said: “I do not see as many leaders as in some Olympics.

Cracknell has two Olympic golds to his name


Humphrey Nemar.)

“I do not see enough people thinking for themselves and taking ownership of their crew’s training, which is ultimately the basis for the boat’s performance.

“The impression I get is that there is a sort of teacher-pupil relationship at Caversham [where GB train].

“Every session is carried out under the watchful eyes of the coaching team. There is no trust that you might be able to manage a number of sessions independently, and no desire to give the athletes some oxygen and freedom away from Caversham.

“This is important because people need to be given responsibility if they are to develop into rounded personalities, or to own and take control of their goals.”

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Is James Cracknell right to criticise the Team GB rowing performances in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments below.

Cracknell, who commentated on the rowing for the BBC, also addressed the departure of Jurgen Grobler from the sport.

Grobler had overseen Team GB’s successes since 1992 before stepping down in August 2020.

The coach famously led the GB four to gold medals in five consecutive Olympics from 2000 to 2016, working with the likes of Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, Alex Gregory and, of course, Cracknell himself in the process.

Cracknell wrote: “Whatever we might say about the timing of Jurgen’s departure – and personally I think it was badly handled – this is an opportunity to sit down, think about what went wrong, and develop a new culture.

Cracknell (left) on the Olympic podium alongside Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent


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“I hope British Rowing will come up with an approach that gives the athletes more say. Because if you treat them like schoolkids, they will end up behaving like schoolkids when the 2024 regatta comes around.”

Team GB suffered heartbreak after heartbreak in Tokyo as they missed out on medals, only the men’s quadruple sculls winning silver and the men’s eight bagging a disappointing bronze.

The men’s four faced steering problems in the final 250 meters, resulting in a crushing fourth-placed finish.

Returning Olympian Helen Glover also couldn’t quite write her comeback story in the coxless pair alongside Polly Swann, as they too came home fourth.

Team GB’s men’s four face steering problems in the final 100 metres



Even the bronze medal-winning eight, Team GB’s strongest boat, were disappointed with their result having slipped back perilously on the final few strokes.

Many former rowing Olympians have issues messages of praise to the squad, in contrast to Cracknell’s damning words.

Matt Rossiter, one of the members of the Team GB four, hit back at the commentator for his criticism.

He said: ‘It’s just disappointing that those people will be really smug because they are part of the winning legacy. Preventing that was a motivation to do well.

‘I hope they are happy we have not continued the gold run.

“Sometimes there’s a feeling the Cracknell/Pinsent generation kind of revel in the team not performing as it should.”

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