I'm Your Man Wham!
11 April 2015, 08:03
Cambridge University Boat Club's President Alexander Leichter has told Heart he is feeling confident ahead of today's University Boat Race on the Thames.
The 25 year old Austrian land economy student was picked out of a fast-food queue aged 15 and asked to give rowing a try by his first coach in the sport, and has risen quickly through the ranks in the ensuing decade.
Cambridge's first Austrian boat club president remains confident his crew boasts enough experience to handle the pressure on Saturday evening.
"The guys who have raced before have taken the lead in telling their crew-mates what to expect and how to deal with the race,'' said Leichter.
"We've worked well as a team and it didn't necessary take a blue boat experienced president to lead the squad.
"The whole experience is very different though.
"Goldie was also a very intense race too, there was a lot of attention and pressure on the crew, but it is not the same as the blue boat.''
Oxford University President Constantine Louloudis meanwhile is "hungrier than ever'' to lead Oxford to a fourth Boat Race victory in five years.
He boasts the most enviable CV in Saturday's River Thames battle, with three Boat Race victories under his belt and a bronze medal from London 2012.
The 23-year-old took a year out from his classics degree to help Great Britain's men's eight to third place in the Olympics, before resuming both his studies and Boat Race dominance.
The old Etonian dryly labelled a potential fourth and final Boat Race triumph as "the successful rounding off of an Oxford career'', before conceding the depth of his desire for one more varsity victory.
"I haven't come here, having won three races, to lose the last one,'' he said.
"I'm probably hungrier than ever, hungrier to win this one than I have been on any other occasion.''
For the first time the Oxford-Cambridge women's race will take place on the same Putney to Mortlake course as the male equivalent.
Claire Balding has eschewed calling the Grand National for the BBC to commentate on the race, in what has been viewed as another step in the right direction for gender equality in top-level sport.
The women's race will precede the men's battle by an hour.
Oxford women named their boat Catalyst, underlining their ambitions for Saturday's first to help accelerate the growth of women's sport.
"We recognise that as nine women studying and rowing at Oxford we are a small part of this desperately-needed process but we are humbled by the massive opportunity this race has to encourage change in the perception of women's sport,'' said Oxford president Anastasia Chitty.
Heart's Annie Green spoke to Leichter and Joshua Hooper, Vice President of the Cambridge University Boat Club last month as the preparations ramped up a gear: