Oxford president feared Muamba repeat

Broken men: Oxford limp over the line in the Boat Race with their broken oar visible

Broken men: Oxford limp over the line in the Boat Race with their broken oar visible

First published in Headlines Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

Twickenham rower Karl Hudspith has described the moment he thought Oxford University Boat Club team-mate Dr Alexander Woods had died as a living nightmare.

The 24-year-old Oxford president finished on the losing side as Cambridge University triumphed in a controversial 158th Boat Race on the Thames earlier this month.

The four-and-a-quarter-mile event, first staged in 1829, was halted near Chiswick Eyot and re-started after a man was spotted swimming into the path of the two boats.

Trenton Oldfield appeared at Feltham Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with causing a public nuisance and has since been bailed to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on May 23.

A broken oar in the Oxford crew following a clash of blades at the re-start and ultimately denied the Dark Blues a shot at victory.

Dr Brown collapsed motionless at the finish line in Mortlake sparking fears of a repeat of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba's recent fight for life.

And former Trafalgar Primary School pupil Hudspith admitted it was a moment he would not want to re-live.

"When we crossed the line I looked round and saw Alex had collapsed," he said.

"From the way he wasn't moving we were pretty worried and to begin with I thought he might have died.

"Having been dealt the huge blow of losing and to then see one of your best friends in that way, was one of the worst moments of my life. It was like a nightmare.

"The thought of Fabrice Muamba was running through my head, but once the medics in the launch got to him it was pretty clear he would be okay.

"It is pretty rare for a rower to collapse. Alex pushed himself to that point in pursuit of victory in an almost lost cause, which shows a huge amount of mental toughness."

The race was halted with only a quarter-of-a-length separating the boats and pre-race favourites Oxford preparing to mount a bid for victory.

Hudspith revealed the stoppage was as much a motivation as a hinderence, but it was the clash of blades - which otherwise may never have happened - that proved pivotal.

And the former Hampton School student was left to hope the incident would bring his crew closer together.

"We are warned before every race that there could be an obstruction in the river at any time, so we were prepared for something like that to happen," he added.

"When the race was stopped we were confident of winning. We used the stoppage as motivation. We wanted to win what would then be a historic race.

"Because of the angle we re-started at and how close the boats were together - much closer than at the start - the crash was pretty inevitable. Ninety-nine per cent of the time nothing happens, so we were just unlucky.

"Once we lost the oar it was - until later - the most terrible feeling I've had in a boat, but to the boys' credit there was never any question of stopping.

"We don't want to be one of those losing Boat Race crews that never speaks to each other again and, hopefully, we'll all be motivated to come back together for the summer."

Hudspith, a former Team GB U23 international and Molsey Boat Club member, is yet to decide in which direction his own future lies - whether that be another crack at the Boat Race or stepping out on the road to qualification for the 2016 Olympic regatta in Brazil.

He said: "I'm not sure what I'll do next. If I can get another year at Oxford I might give the Boat Race another crack.

"The 2016 Olympics is a long way off. I'm not sure I could commit to four years of training knowing bad luck - like this year - or injury could take it all away."

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