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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 18:10 GMT
Cracknell playing waiting game
By Elizabeth Hudson

Olympic rower James Cracknell
Cracknell was part of Great Britain's coxless four team in Athens
Olympic rower James Cracknell is keeping his options open on whether he will return to the sport.

The double gold medallist announced last week that he was taking a year off to regain his mental sharpness.

"I won't know until I watch next year's World Championships whether I will want to return," he admitted to BBC Sport.

"Although I think I can return to that level, I also know what level of intensity I will need to be able to compete in Beijing in 2008."

Cracknell revealed that he could have continued on until after the World Championships in Japan but he finds maintaining his focus in the years between big events very tough.

"If after the year off I don't want to go back, there just wouldn't be any point in going back," he said.

"I went out rowing this morning because I do enjoy training and getting out on the water.

I know that I have missed out on some of the things my friends have been able to do over the past 10 years
James Cracknell

"But while the other guys are having to put in another session later in the day, I don't and it is quite nice to be able to choose when I want to go and train.

"Mentally, it can be quite dull being a professional athlete and I am hoping to use the break to refresh my mind by doing different sports."

Cracknell won his second Olympic gold medal in Athens as part of the coxless fours, alongside Matthew Pinsent, Ed Coode and Steve Williams, and says that being a professional athlete has taken a toll on other parts of his life.

"I have been a full-time athlete for almost 10 years and I know that I have missed out on some of the things that my non-rowing friends have been able to do during that time," he said.

"They would probably like to have had some of the opportunities that I have had over that time but I don't think they would swap the fact that I have barely had a weekend off training in 10 years."

But despite his sabbatical and Pinsent's decision to retire, Cracknell believes that the future for the sport is still promising.

"Although I think the profile of rowing may suffer a bit now, the performances will still be strong," he admitted.

"We have still got a solid group of five or six competitors who are all pushing each other on and another bonus now is that the sport is very well funded so those competing don't have to worry about trying to attract new sponsors.

"I think that many rowers wouldn't care if they never got in the papers over the next couple of years, as long as they won gold in Beijing."


SEE ALSO
Cracknell opts for one-year break
29 Nov 04 |  Other Sport



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