Who is James Cracknell? Meet the Strictly Come Dancing 2019 contestant and rowing champion

James Cracknell has won Olympic gold for his rowing – will his rumba be as good?

James Cracknell is lacing up his dancing shoes, ready to hotfoot it to the Strictly Come Dancing 2019 dancefloor along with the confirmed Strictly celeb line-up.


The Olympic gold medallist has been confirmed for the latest series of the BBC One dance show.

But who’s the man behind the oars? Here’s all you need to know.

Who is James Cracknell?

Cracknell is a heavily decorated champion rower, scoring gold in the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics – as well as winning the World Rowing Championships six times. His achievements saw him awarded an OBE later in 2004.

Earlier this year, Cracknell took part in the annual Boat Race, rowing for Cambridge after taking up a PhD at Peterhouse to study a doctorate in Human Evolution the year previously.


Age: 47

Twitter: @jamescracknell

Instagram: @jamescracknell

What is James Cracknell known for? Rowing champion and sports presenter

Who is James Cracknell’s Strictly partner? Luba Mushtuk

At 46, he became the oldest rower (and subsequent winner) in the event’s history over the last ten years.

But in addition to his skills in a boat, Cracknell is a keen cyclist and runner, having taken on the London Marathon twice.

He previously said he was “lucky to be alive” after his bike was hit by a truck while riding over in the US, causing bruising on his brain.

Outside the world of sport, Cracknell once stood as a Conservative Party candidate for South West England and Gibraltar in European Parliament election of 2014, but was not elected.

He also writes for a national broadsheet, with his column usually about sport but also touching on gardening and cooking.

Has James Cracknell appeared on television before?

James Cracknell
James Cracknell

As well as being a regular sports presenter on ITV and Channel 4, Cracknell’s previous gold medal efforts were documented in 2000 series Gold Fever, which followed the Team GB rowing squad.

Cracknell teamed up with friend Ben Fogle on 2006 daytime programme Through Hell and High Water, which saw the pair attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2009, Cracknell joined Fogel again alongside Ed Coats for On Thin Ice, a series that documented their first organised race to the South Pole.

More recently, he showed how truly tough he was when he slummed it on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean for Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls in 2018.

Has James Cracknell previously been linked to Strictly Come Dancing?

According to reports, Cracknell signed up to Strictly after splitting with his wife, Beverley Turner, last year.

“James has always been interested in doing some reality TV but after getting offered Strictly Come Dancing last year Beverley put her foot down,” a source told The Sun.

“James thinks the show will be good for his profile.”

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Strictly Come Dancing launches on BBC One later this year