Bradley Wiggins should be given a chance to fight for a spot in the GB rowing team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, according to a two-time gold medallist in the sport.
James Cracknell, who won gold medals in the coxless four in 2000 and 2004, says that Wiggins, who he is now coaching, should be given a place in the rowing squad in the run-up to the Olympics in 2020.
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“Can he put himself in the same ball-park as the guys at the bottom end of the national squad, and will the coach take a gamble on him for Tokyo? In my opinion, it’s a gamble worth taking,” Cracknell told the Mirror.
“On his own, Brad has won more Olympic medals than any British athlete in history, and even if he doesn’t quite make the standard, there’s a huge amount of guys who can learn so much from him about what it takes to be a champion.
“By 2020, he will only be a bit older than Steve Redgrave when he won in Sydney, and he has a track record of achieving his target when he puts his mind to something.”
Wiggins will be competing in the British Rowing Indoor Championships this weekend (which are coincidently being held at the Lee Valley Velodrome), and Cracknell says that the 2012 Tour de France winner should see this as an opportunity to show his potential, even if his physical stature may prove an issue.
“[The National Championships are] an opportunity for him to put a score on the board which could mark him down as a contender,” Cracknell continued.
“He’s been very quick to pay respect to the sport, and he’s not larking around. He’s also got to be realistic and accept he’s a bloke of around 6’3″ and 93kg taking on guys who are 6′ 6”, 110kg and all the power they can generate.
“It’s the equivalent of him riding a static Wattbike. It’s a useful measurement of his power, but the real test will be on the water.”
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Since then he has frequently posted photos on social media showing training session on static rowing machines and pumping iron in the gym in an attempt to bulk up for a sport where weight isn’t quite as important as in cycling.
However for Cracknell it is not all about athletic performance, with giving Wiggins a place in the squad having the potential to provide other benefits to the sport of rowing.
“If I was running British Rowing, I’d be looking at the profile of the sport and thinking how much it could be lifted by having someone of Bradley Wiggins’ stature.
“As a sport it needs funding, it needs publicity and it needs to extend its profile beyond once every four years in the headlines when we win Olympic medals.”