Oxford pick Olympians for Boat Race

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The Independent Online

This year’s University Boat Race (29 March) is a challenge between two intellectual powerhouses, both of whom bring a ton of rowing experience to add to the degrees that made all of their members graduates before taking up residency for doctorates and what-have-you.

Tom Solesbury guffawed at the idea that he is the token Brit in the Oxford crew. Five of the Oxford crew, represented four countries in Beijing last summer, including Solesbury and the president, Colin Smith, who was born in Zimbabwe but rows for GB. Additionally, bow man Michal Plotkowiak represented Poland in Athens five years ago. They are immensely powerful and, says Plotkowiak who rowed in the Boat Race two years ago, surprisingly smooth and together for a Dark Blue boat four weeks before the fixture.

Cambridge are chiefly composed of guys on their way up in the international stakes, and their new coach Chris Nilsson, whose arrival from New Zealand was delayed by visa problems, is delighted with the set-up, attitude and performance that he inherited. Like at Oxford, the international abilities and egos are all pulling in the same direction, ably directed by the president, Henry Pelly. The story of trials held in December was that half of Oxford were stars and half also-rans, whereas Cambridge were all in between. Now they seem pretty evenly matched.

They are tall, too. At the announcement and photo call near City Hall yesterday, it looked as if Tower Bridge would have to be raised if the crews should go afloat. Former Boat Race BBC commentators were prominent in attendance, surely a hint that after ITV’s surprising withdrawal after this year’s race, Auntie will be supplying the cameras again. Sponsors Xchanging will be relieved.

Boat Race crews:

Oxford: Michal Plotkowiak, Colin Smith, Alex Hearne, Ben Harrison, Sjoerd Hamburger, Tom Solesbury, George Bridgewater, Ante Kusurin, cox: Colin Groshong

Cambridge: Rob Weitemeyer, Henry Pelly, Deaglan McEachern, Peter Marsland, Ryan Monaghan, Hardy Cubasch, Tom Ransley, Silas Stafford, cox: Rebecca Dowbiggin

Reserve crews:

Goldie (Cambridge): James Strawson, Dan O'Shaughnessy, Code Sternal, John Clay, Shane O'Mara, Joel Jennings, George Nash, Fred Gill, cox: Helen Hodges

Isis (Oxford): Mike Valli, Douglas Bruce, Tim Farquharson, Alec Dent, David Hopper, Justin Stangel, Colin Keogh, Martin Walsh, cox: Adam Barhamand