James Cracknell on split from wife: We did everything we could

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor
The two-time Olympic champion said he and Beverley Turner are 'different people' from when they got married.

Olympic rower James Cracknell has said he and his wife “tried everything we could” to keep their marriage together.

Cracknell and TV presenter Beverley Turner, who have three children together, recently announced their separation after 17 years of marriage.

The sports star has said their marriage was affected by a brain injury he suffered during an endurance sport event in the US in 2010, but that she has been a big support to him.

He told BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast: “It’s not like the accident was last year – it was nine years ago – but I guess there’s an element of, if you’re the partner, you always judge your other half through the prism of what has happened.

“We’re also, as any couple is, different people from who you were 17 years ago and we can look back and say we did everything.

“We still get on really well and that’s the most important thing for the kids. It’s never a good time for either Bev or I, or the kids. Hopefully in the long run it will all be all right.”

Cracknell, 46, and Turner, 45, married in 2002, and she nursed him back to health following his injury nearly a decade ago.

Speaking ahead of the 2019 Boat Race this Sunday, which will see Cambridge rower Cracknell become the oldest person to take part in the event, he added: “As a sportsman you are slightly single-minded and stubborn, which is great if you’re a sportsman but not great to live with. So if you become more of that, that’s an issue.

“What is really important is for your partner and friends and family to be really honest with you. Their support comes from an unconditional place of love and trust.

“I found I was getting a lot of sympathy but you need someone to tell you straight and that’s a large part of why I recovered as well as I did and exceed what a lot if neurologists expected.

“If I told them nine years later I’d be at Cambridge and doing the Boat Race, they’d have gone ‘Yeah, but maybe not’. Bev’s pushing and support was really important.”

Cracknell, who won gold medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games and retired from the sport in 2006, will be in the CUBC boat in the classic race on April 7.

He is a mature student studying for a philosophy degree at the university.