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Posts Tagged ‘Trenton Oldfield boat race’

So the newsfest that is the 2012 Boat Race continues, and now it appears that we know who the rogue swimmer is: a 35-year-old man named Trenton Oldfield (with a name like that he should have been a rocker, not a protester) wishing to complain about elitism. In an extended rant he set out his grievances and explained why he’d picked the Boat Race for his protest:

“The boat race itself, with its pseudo competition, assembled around similar principles of fastest, strongest, selected …etc, is an inconsequential backdrop for these elite educational institutions to demonstrate themselves, reboot their shared culture together in the public realm.”

Now, there’s no denying that at school level, rowing is – with a few very notable exceptions – a sport practised mostly at fee-paying schools. But at club level, rowing simply cannot be accused of elitism. Rowing clubs are spectacularly good value for money – far cheaper than most gyms and health clubs, and offering so much more for your money. Membership is by no means confined to those with plums in their mouths; if it were, the clubs simply wouldn’t be able to keep going.

Rowing is the best leveller I know. You might have a good education, a first class degree and a cut glass accent, but let me assure you that none of these make the boat go faster. None of these will make you win. I should know: I’ve got all of the above and have yet to win a race. Thankfully there are plenty of people in my club who have none of these advantages but are blessed with what really matters in rowing: strength, technique and courage. That’s what wins races.

But elitism aside, what really amused me about Trenton Oldfield’s blog was his description of the Boat Race as a “pseudo competition”. I wonder if, when he saw the boats powering towards him at a terrifying speed and saw at close quarters what went into the race, he still thought that. Whatever you can say about rowing, there’s nothing pseudo about it.

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