Boat Race 2012: Trenton Oldfield is Thames swimmer who caused event to stop


Chaos at the Boat Race: Event stopped because of SWIMMER in the Thames… then Oxford”s broken blade gives Cambridge victoryTrenton Oldfield, 35, self-proclaimed anti-elitist protester, claims responsibility for dramatic interruption.
Historic race restarted for first time in 11 yearsMet Police confirm man arrested on suspicion of public order offence
More drama during race when oar broke on board Oxford boatFirst time in history contest has been disrupted by a swimmerCambridge eventually win race after dramatic 30-minute delay

Cambridge University today won the most controversial boat race in history after the contest was halted when a man swam across the Thames – and an Oxford oar snapped seconds after the restart.

Anti-elitist protester Trenton Oldfield, 35, brought the race to a halt for the first time in 11 years, claiming he deliberately swam in front of the two boat crews.

After the restart halfway along the course, further drama unfolded when an oar snapped on board the Oxford boat, allowing Cambridge to surge to victory.

Then, in a final twist, an exhausted Oxford rower collapsed after the finish.

Boat race: The race was dramatically halted this afternoon because a man was swimming in the Thames

Arrest: The swimmer is hauled out from the River Thames and taken onto a nearby boat after the delay

Halted: The man, thought to have been a protester, keeps his head above water during the unprecedented scenes

The dramatic interruption to the boat race was the first time the university contest has had to be restarted in 11 years

Infamous: Protester Trenton Oldfield appears to lap up the attention following his stunt at the boat race, after which Met Police confirmed a man had been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence

Notorious: Protester Oldfield, a privately-educated graduate waves as he is removed after interrupting the boat race

THE PRIVATELY-EDUCATED PROTESTER WHO STOPPED THE BOAT RACE

Privately-educatedTrenton Oldfield, from Whitechapel, London, graduated from the elite London School of Economics in 2008 with an MSc in Contemporary Urbanism.He is also a fellow Royal Society of Arts.

Accordingto his profile on LinkedIn, he has worked and volunteered on a number of charities, trusts and community organisations.

Fiveyears ago he helped found This Is Not A Gateway, a non-profit which ‘creates platforms for critical projects and ideas related to cities’, with fellow activist Deepa Naik.

The pair co-fund the organisation out of their own earnings.

OnLinkedIn Mr Oldfield describes himself as: ‘Rich, open-minded, multi-disciplinary, efficient, focused, intelligent, honest, unique.’

The protester who disrupted this afternoon”s event has been named as Trenton Oldfield, an activistwho claimed the incident was a deliberate “act of civil disobedience”.

Within hours of the race, a blog post attributed to Mr Oldfield emerged on a website called “Elitism leads to tyranny”.

Mr Oldfield wrote: “I am swimming into the boats in the hope Ican stop them from completing the race and proposing the return of surprise tactics.”

The Metropolitan Police later confirmed a man was arrested on suspicion of a public orderoffence and is currently in custody at a West London police station.

Sergeant Chris Tranter, of the Metropolitan Police, said the rowers had nearly decapitated the swimmer.

“They almost took his head off,” he said.

The crews were forced to stop between the two and three-mile marker when Mr Oldfield was spotted swimming in the river.

The blades of the Oxford team”s oars narrowly missed him and the race was halted.

The crews were neck and neck when the swimmer brought the four-and-a-quarter mile race to a standstill.

He was picked up by a lifeboat and brought ashore shortly after the boats were halted.

It is the first time in the event”s history that it has been disrupted by a swimmer, organisers said.

Therewas even more drama after the restart when, following a 30-minute delay, the race restarted, only for a member of the Oxford team to breakan oar.

Oxford were all but reduced to seven oarsmen when Hanno Weinhausen snapped his blade, leaving their rivals to reclaim the crown.

One of the losing rowers was removed from the boat after he collapsed at the end of the race. Medic Alexander Woods, 27, was lifted from the bow and is recovering in hospital.

The Boat Race Company Limited said on its website: “BRCL can confirm that Alex Woods is in a stable condition. He will continue to be monitored by hospital staff.

“At this time, BRCL”s concern is for Alex”s well-being. Alex”s family are with him and he is receiving the best possible medical care.”

Sean Bowden, the Oxford University Boat Club coach, said the bowman”s collapse was the product of “the most extraordinary and unfortunate chain of events that have conspired against us to take away a win which I think we looked like we were about to take in the race proper”.

Dr Woods must have felt desperate, he suggested.

“Obviously our biggest concern is Alex”s welfare and it was good to see that he was conscious and taken off to hospital with good care,” Mr Bowden said.

“We rowed ourselves into a very good position and the crew looked in good shape. And we were ready to go and again at the restart we put ourselves in a very good position.

“The clash was obviously just one of those extremely unfortunate things. And the outcome of the crash was a broken blade.

“And I guess you can only imagine the desperation that Alex must have been in with only six crew mates left and that”s probably how he ended up pushing himself beyond his limits.”

Arrested: A man is arrested by police officers, centre, after stopping the boat race this afternoon

Chaos: The protester, who was this afternoon thought to be anarchist Trenton Oldfield, is hauled to safety

The contest ended in no presentation ceremony and the Boat Race Company labelled it “possibly the most dramatic in Boat Race history”.

But it is not the first time the Boat Race has been temporarily stopped. In 2001 both crews failed to heed repeated warnings to move apart, and the umpire called a halt following a clash of blades for which Oxford was blamed.

Today”s umpire John Garrett said it was his assistant, veteran rower Sir Matthew Pinsent, who spotted the swimmer.

BOAT RACE PAST CONTROVERSY

Today”s controversial race was not the first time the Boat Race ground to a halt before either team had reached the finish line.

In 2001, umpire Rupert Obholzer brought it to a stop after repeated warnings to both crews to move apartand then a clash of blades.

The blade of Cambridge bowman ColinSwainson dislodged from his hand, but Oxford was initially oblivious tothe umpire”s red flag and rowed on.

When the race was restarted, Cambridge was victorious, but the decision to stop and then restart the race remained controversial.

There have also been six sinkings, with the result being determined by a sinking on three occasions.

Cambridge went under in 1859 and 1978 and Oxford in 1925.

In 1912, both boats sank and the race was rescheduled for the following day, while in 1951 Oxford sank and the race was rescheduled for two days later, when Cambridge won.

And despite the genteel nature of the university competition, there have also been other controversies over the years.

Both the 1959 and 1987 races saw rebellions by Oxford athletes.

In 1959, there was a bid to oust president Ronnie Howard and coach “Jumbo” Edwards.

Cambridge refused to race any but the president”s crew and, the rebellion quashed, Oxford went on to win the race.

The 1987 rebellion saw five American athletes in the Oxford squad refuse to row for coach Dan Topolski or president Donald Macdonald following disagreements over selection and training methods.

But although the Dark Blues had to rely on oarsmen from the reserve team to make up the numbers, the crew still soared over the finish line first that year.

“I”m grateful to Matthew for having spotted the swimmer. He basically said, “There”s something in the water, there”s something in the water”. He thought it was some debris and then we realised that it was actually a swimmer.

“We weren”t sure what was going to happen, whether he was going to get out of the way in time and then it was quite clear he was just waiting for the boats to come across him so I had to stop the race and restart.”

Mr Garrett said the rules stated that crews had to “abide by their accidents”.

“If something happens in a latter stage of the race and there”s a breakage they have to abide by their accident, unless one of the crews is actually off-station and has caused that accident,” he said.

“In my judgment Cambridge were not off their station. In fact in the immediate run-up to the clash I was warning Oxford so in my view Oxford were off their station.

“The collision took place, Oxford came off worse but Cambridge were in the right position and so I was content to allow the race to continue and for the result to stand.”

Cambridge president Dave Nelson described it as a “pretty dramatic race”.

Speaking to the BBC on the riverbank afterwards, he said: “It was really to-ing and fro-ing up until the island.

“Wewould move a seat, they would move a seat and then suddenly there was this yelling about an obstruction going on, and then the next thing I know I see a guy”s head just in the middle of the two boats and there”s something like 10 or 20 boats following us so that guy was in serious strife if the armada of boats was coming steaming through.

“Then I guess there was all the hoo-ha around the restart and then the clash.”

Heexpressed concern for rival Dr Woods, of Pembroke College, who was treated by medical staff but was said to be conscious and sitting up.

Oxford cox Zoe de Toledo, 27, could be seen being comforted at the end of the race.

Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford University Boat Club, blamed Mr Oldfield for ruining his crew”s big day.

He wrote on Twitter: “To Trenton Oldfiled (sic); my team went through seven months of hell, this was the culmination of our careers and you took it from us.”

He also said Dr Woods was conscious and “will hopefully be ok”, offering thanks for the many messages of support the rower had received.

“I”m proud of everyone in the team and how they rowed. They were a credit to themselves and their university,” Mr Hudspith added.

BEEB”S BLUNDER TOPS OFF THE FARCE

Viewers were momentarily taken aback as the Beeb”s Clare Balding spoke to last year”s cox Liz Box.

The typo was spotted by deaf journalist Paul Harrison, who immediately shared it with his amused followers on Twitter.

Exhaustion: Oxford bow Dr Alexander Woods was taken unwell after collapsing at the end of the race

Probe: A police boat arrives on the scene and the man is arrested after interrupting the 168th boat race

An aerial view of the Thames shows the two crews neck and neck in the early stages of the race before the dramatic incident