Two-time Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell (second from right) will at 46 become the oldest student to compete in the Boat Race when he rows for Cambridge on April 7

London (AFP) - Two-time Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell will become the oldest oarsman to compete in the Boat Race after Cambridge selected him in their eight on Thursday.

The Englishman – who won Olympic gold in the coxless fours in Sydney in 2000 and repeated the feat in Athens in 2004 – is eight years older than Andy Probert was when he coxed the Cambridge boat in 1992.

Cracknell, a six-time world champion, will be almost 25 years older than some of his fellow Cambridge crew members.

Cracknell, who suffers from epilepsy and is short-tempered after a cycling accident in the United States in 2010, is studying for a philosophy degree and had also been offered a place at Oxford.

Cambridge won last year’s race – which is watched annually by thousands on the banks of the Thames – and hold a slight advantage over their rivals in overall wins, 83-80, since it was first raced in 1829.

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