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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Oxford look to bury past
Oxford President Ben Burch and his Cambridge counterpart Tom Stallard admire the Boat Race trophy
Both university Presidents admire the Boat Race trophy
Oxford and Cambridge are set for a titanic tussle on the Thames in the 148th University Boat Race.

The crews have undergone a demanding schedule to reach peak condition for the four-and-a-quarter mile race on London's River Thames.

Cambridge have won eight of the nine last meetings, including last year's controversial race when the contest was re-started after only two minutes after a clash of blades.

Oxford President Ben Burch is at pains to point out that revenge is not his team's main motivation for this year's meeting.

However, the Dark Blue trial crew names Bitter and Twisted do leave you wondering.

Despite the monikers given to Oxford's two test crews in December, Burch insists that last year's events will have no bearing on the outcome of the race.

"We're not dwelling on last year," he told BBC Sport Online.


I lost in 2000 and hated it so there's a degree of just not wanting to lose at all because it's so painful
Cambridge president Tom Stallard

"It's all about this year and moving on. We just want to win the race - that's all we're about.

"What happened last year is in the past, as is the year before when we won."

Burch has good reason to look forward to this year's race.

The Oxford crew are boosted by the presence of three international oarsmen: Dutchman Gerritjan Eggenkamp and Americans Lucas McGee and Dan Perkins.

"The new guys obviously bring a lot of international experience with them and that brings more variety to the team," said Burch.

"We've then got some really strong young guys who've jumped through the GB junior system - one on the blue boat (Basil Dixon) and a number in Isis."

Not that Cambridge are without their own international flavour, which president Tom Stallard hopes will give his university their best crew ever.

"Our aim is to be the best Cambridge crew that's ever gone," said Stallard.

"I know there's 147 years of Cambridge oarsmen who will be hating me for that but I'm sure they tried the same thing when they were at Cambridge."

Cambridge celebrate their controversial win last year
Cambridge celebrate last year's controversial win

But with a crew made up of two Australians, an American, a German and five British oarsmen, Stallard admits that team spirit took time to develop.

"It's helpful having people from diverse backgrounds because it means you have a broad range of experience," Stallard said.

"However, when you have people from disparate backgrounds it takes a while to develop into a crew."

"But it soon comes and you wear the light blue armour with pride. It feels pretty good."

Stallard already has three blues to his name and experience has softened his attitude to his opponents, if not to the race itself.

"I've won the race twice but in 2000 I lost and I really really hated it so there's a degree of just not wanting to lose at all because it's so painful," he said.

"If we win, I should imagine a day or two afterwards I will feel some sympathy for the Oxford crew."

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BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
"Oxford feel they were robbed last year"
BBC Sport Online's University Boat Race site

Boat Race in-depth

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26 Mar 02 | Boat Race 2002
Links to more Boat Race 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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