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Oxford captain says ‘too much poo in water’ after boat race loss

The Gemini Boat Race 2024 (PA)
The Gemini Boat Race 2024 (PA)

The Oxford rowing team captain complained about ‘poo’ in the Thames after his team’s loss.

Research earlier this week found high levels of E. coli were in the part of the river used for the annual race between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

All crews were given safety guidance on a range of preventative measures, from covering up scrapes with waterproof plasters to ensuring rowers avoided swallowing any water that splashed up from the Thames.

After the race, Leonard Jenkins told BBC Sport: “This morning I was throwing up and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to race.

“I kept that quiet and ultimately that’s on my shoulders, it may not have been the right choice because I didn’t have my all to give in that race.

“It would be a lot nicer if there wasn’t as much poo in the water.

“It’s not to take away from Cambridge, as we may not have beaten them even if we were all on top form.”

Both the men’s and women’s races were won by the University of Cambridge.

Whilst the winning team traditionally throws their cox into the water, the Cambridge women’s team instead lifted their teammate Hannah Murphy up inside the boat.

Asked about their choice of celebration following the E. coli research, Ms Murphy said afterwards: “It is what it is. I think we want to support the research that’s being done and the guidelines by British Safety.

“It’s not really that important, ultimately.”

Regular testing conducted by River Action and the Fulham Reach Boat Club between February 28 and March 26 detected E. coli, which can cause serious infections.

The 16 tests around Hammersmith Bridge in west London indicated an average of 2,869 E.coli colony forming units (CFU) per 100ml of water.

The Environment Agency’s quality standards level requires below 1,000 CFU per 100ml.

The highest level recorded was 9,801 CFU per 100ml, nearly 10 times higher than levels graded as “poor” by the regulator.

River Action said the testing locations in its research suggested the source of pollution is from Thames Water discharging sewage directly into the river and its tributaries.