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Boat Race rower claims ‘so much poo in water’ made Oxford crew sick before Cambridge loss | Other | Sport

Defeated Oxford captain Leonard Jenkins admitted that he was throwing up on the morning of this year’s Boat Race, with ‘so much poo in the water’ also affecting a number of his team-mates before Cambridge stormed to a one-sided victory on the River Thames.

Oxford were the favourites to clinch only their second victory in six years on Saturday, with Cambridge dominating the contest since 2018. However, Jenkins and his team-mates fell behind from the word go.

They were ultimately unable to claw back the deficit, despite Matt Edge suffering from serious fatigue towards the end of the race and effectively leaving Cambridge a man light. After Oxford’s painful defeat, Jenkins claimed that pre-match illness had spread throughout the camp.

“I will say, and this is in no way to take away from Cambridge, but we’ve had a few guys come down with the E.coli strain,” he told the BBC. “This morning I was throwing up and I really wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it into the boat.

“I ultimately kept that quiet, that’s on my shoulders. I’m not sure if it was the right choice, because I really didn’t feel like I had much to give in the race.

“But it would have meant taking one of the top guys out of the other teams and ruining their chances – I wanted to give them a fair fight. It would have been ideal not to have so much poo in the water [laughs] but that’s not to take away from Cambridge.

“They’re a talented crew and I don’t know if we’d have had a chance to get them even if we had been on form, it’s in no way to make excuses.”

A selection of tests around Hammersmith Bridge, which rowers pass on the Championship Course, found an average of 2,869 E.coli forming units per 100ml of water – almost three times the maximum threshold to fall in line with the Environment Agency’s inland bathing water quality standards.

Before Saturday’s race, rowers were warned about covering cuts and grazes, cleaning equipment thoroughly and taking care not to swallow river water that splashed on their faces.


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