Sports Letters: The spirit of competition

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report (25 March) that the German oarsman, Philips Schuller, says of the Boat Race in which he subsequently rowed for Oxford: 'You can't have one of the most respected races in the world and then limit it to English people between the ages of 19 and 21.' Surely the Boat Race is widely respected by millions because they see it as a trial of strength between the best young men of these great universities. Sadly, for some years the event has no longer reflected this ideal. If, as in other Oxford-Cambridge contests, the crews represented the sport at college rather than international level would this not be for the benefit of British rowing as a whole? A truly equal contest takes place annually between Oxford and Cambridge crews recruited from the best of college oarsmen - namely the lightweights (now a recognised international division of rowing). These young men pursue a sporting ideal that would surely capture the public imagination if it were more generously reported in the media. The fact that Cambridge has won 15 times in the last 16 years shows the real strength of college rowing in the two universities.

Yours sincerely,

ROGER COOMBS

Goudhurst

Kent

26 March

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