Oxford rower blames Boat Race loss on ‘so much poo’ in Thames water

Cambridge’s men team triumphed for a fifth time in six years (Picture: Getty)

Oxford rower Leonard Jenkins said ‘it would have been ideal to not have so much poo in the water’ after their Boat Race defeat to Cambridge, with several team members falling ill due to E. coli bacteria in the River Thames.

Cambridge’s men triumphed for a fifth time in the last six years to complete the double over Oxford, following victory for the women’s team, with this weekend’s event marking the 169 edition of the historic rivalry.

Though Cambridge saw their lead of more than ten seconds narrowly eroded as the finish approached, they held on to get over the line, with stroke Matt Edge appearing on the verge of collapse as his team-mates celebrated around him.

In the build-up to the annual event, serious concerns were raised over the high levels of E. coli in the Thames and the crews were told to not enter the water and to cover up open wounds.

In years gone by, it has been the norm for the winning cox to be tossed out of the boat by the rest of their team – but this tradition was abandoned given the warnings that had come before Saturday’s spectacle.

‘I don’t have any words,’ Jenkins told BBC Sport in the aftermath of Oxford’s loss.

‘We had a clear plan of what we wanted to do. We had a really good set up, the last couple of days have been amazing. It didn’t come together on the day, that’s disappointing. But I couldn’t be prouder of the guys. It’s been a great battle.

‘It’s a shame the results doesn’t suit that, Cambridge showed their class and did to us what we wanted to do for them.

‘Maybe experience [was the difference]? I’m not sure. I didn’t expect it to be such a big difference.’

Oxford rower was vomiting before Saturday’s Boat Race (Picture: BBC Sport)

Jenkins bemoaned the amount of ‘poo’ in the water and felt he ‘didn’t have much to give’ after vomiting on the morning of the race.

‘I will also say, and it’s in no way to take away from Cambridge, we’ve had a few guys go down pretty badly with the E. coli strain,’ he added.

‘This morning I was throwing up and I really wasn’t sure there was a chance for me to be in the boat. I kept that quiet, that’s on my shoulders.

Cambridge completed the double over their university rivals (Picture: Getty)

‘I’m not sure if that was the right choice because I didn’t feel like I had much to give. But it would have been taking one of the top guys out of Isis and ruining their chances.

‘I felt like we needed to give them a fair fight. It would have been ideal to not have so much poo in the water.

‘That’s not to take away from Cambridge, I don’t know if we would have had a chance to beat them even if we were all on form.’

Oxford coach Bowden labelled the pollution in the Thames a ‘national disgrace’ (Picture: Getty)

Prior to the race, Oxford coach Sean Bowden said the pollution in the Thames was a ‘national disgrace’ and ‘very concerning’.

‘It’s a national disgrace isn’t it?’ Bowden – who has coached Oxford since 1997 – said.

‘It’s very concerning. And it would be terrific if the Boat Race drew attention to it.

‘We are very keen to play a part and we recognise we have a role and a responsibility to it.

‘Once in a while someone will pick up a stomach bug, but they tend to bounce back within 24 or 48 hours. So this is something that is really important.

‘We clearly don’t want people to get ill. We talk about every time we come to the Tideway about good hygiene and mitigation strategies.’

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