Oxford rowers claim poo in Thames left them feeling sick and cost them Boat Race

The Boat Race Spoiled By Poo

The annual Boat Race returned on Saturday (30 March) as participants from Oxford and Cambridge went head to head in a bid to win the much coveted trophy. However, it seems a case of poopery hampered Oxford's chances, with a member of the team claiming illness blamed on 'E.coli strain' causing them to throw up and leaving them feeling sick.

Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images Swollen River Thames on Monday, meaning an increase in sewage dumps from treatment works struggling to cope with heavy rainfall. Matt Edge of Cambridge University was seen slumping back into the lap of a teammate as they were crowned champions of the men's race, while the Cambridge women's boat also triumphed. It was a close call for the men, with Oxford fighter back to take the lead but ultimately Cambridge pulled ahead to secure the win.

Cambridge University Boat Club stroke Matt Edge slumps back in the boat ahead of the finish line. Despite an Oxford rower looking like they could collapse, Cambridge pushed forward to clinch victory.

But it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Oxford team, who claimed the sewage in the Thames left them feeling sick. Team captain Leonard Jenkins pointed out his team's poor performance, stating that 'maybe experience [was the difference]? I'm not sure'.

He added to BBC Sport: "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. 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. 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 [the Oxford reserve boat] and ruining their chances."

He went on to say having 'a few guys go down pretty badly with the E. coli strain' was a 'poor excuse', but it 'definitely' hadn't helped their performance, adding: "I'm not sure if we would have had a chance to beat them even if we were all on form."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently warned swimmers to stay out of the Thames because of high bacteria levels. Officials warned the river water was unsafe for swimming, fishing and boating because of a possible sewage overflow.

Last September, Thames Water admitted sewage pollution in the river had increased. The company released data showing discharging untreated sewage into the river occurred more than 5,000 times in 2021.

Also speaking to The Guardian, Oxford men's cox, William Denegri, revealed three of their team members had been struck down by a stomach bug, presumably from the sewage. He admitted: "Whether that's related to E. coli in the river, I don't know. But it's certainly not helped our campaign."

The team's coach, Sean Bowden, described the state of the Thames as a 'national disgrace' and said the reports of the amount of E. coli in the water were 'very concerning'.

A Thames Water spokesperson added: "We remain the only company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this 'near real-time' data is available to customers as a map on our website."

A spokesperson for The Boat Race told LADbible: "The Boat Race is aware of Leonard Jenkins' comments about a sickness bug affecting their preparations this week.

"We're not in a position to speculate about the causes of this sickness bug but we have contacted Oxford University Boat Club to seek further clarity."

Needless to say, Oxford will be hoping to recover in time for next year's race, but with the amount of sewage in the river, they may be battling a losing tide.

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