ARE YOU CRACK­ERS, JAMES?

He nearly died in a cy­cle crash. Now Strictly star’s got a pow­er­ful mo­tor­bike

Daily Mail - - News - By Kelly Allen

HIS di­vorce was fi­nalised a mere seven weeks ago.

Now Olympic gold medal­list James Crack­nell has not only found a younger blonde girl­friend, he has also treated him­self to a shiny boy’s toy.

The 47-year-old rower turned up for the launch of this year’s Strictly Come Danc­ing astride a gleam­ing 800cc mo­tor­cy­cle.

Crack­nell ar­rived at the BBC stu­dios in mo­tor­bike leathers, boots and hel­met rid­ing the Honda VFR800F – some­thing that might have sent shiv­ers down the spine among the show’s pro­duc­ers.

In 2010, the fa­ther of three nearly died when his bi­cy­cle was hit by a petrol tanker.

Crack­nell, who was cross­ing the US for a TV doc­u­men­tary, sus­tained se­ri­ous head in­juries when the truck’s wing mir­ror struck the back of his head on Route 66.

Although he was wear­ing a hel­met, his skull was bro­ken in two places. He was left in a coma and suf­fered brain dam­age that he has re­vealed left him with a short tem­per, mem­ory loss and an al­tered per­son­al­ity. Dur­ing his months of re­cov­ery, he ad­mit­ted he was lucky to have sur­vived the crash.

A fort­night ago, Crack­nell suf­fered a far less se­ri­ous prang with a mini­cab driver in Lon­don, af­ter which he tweeted that he’d had a ‘slight wob­ble’ but had suf­fered only ‘a bit of road rash and dam­aged ego’ and a ‘bust fin­ger’.

He said he had feared his Strictly hopes were nearly over be­fore they be­gan, adding: ‘To be hon­est I’ve got more chance of win­ning the Tour [de France] than win­ning Strictly Come Danc­ing. But in for a penny.’

Crack­nell, who won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004, signed up for Strictly af­ter split­ting from his wife of 17 years, TV pre­sen­ter Bev­er­ley Turner. At the week­end, he went public with his new girl­friend Jor­dan Connell. He and the 33-year-old Amer­i­can fi­nance stu­dent, whom he met while study­ing phi­los­o­phy at Cam­bridge Univer­sity, were pic­tured kiss­ing in a Lon­don park.

Miss Turner, 45, openly crit­i­cised Crack­nell for de­cid­ing to en­rol at Cam­bridge and be­come the old­est par­tic­i­pant to take part in the Boat Race, in which he helped Cam­bridge beat Oxford.

But she has been sup­port­ive of his ap­pear­ance on Strictly, de­spite re­port­edly ban­ning him from tak­ing part in the past.

How­ever, she has poked fun at his danc­ing abil­i­ties, say­ing: ‘Pre­pare to see James com­pletely up the creek without a pad­dle.’

Midlife cri­sis? James Crack­nell, in bike leathers, with his Honda VFR800F at the BBC stu­dios Rid­ing off: The 47-year-old hits the road

New girl: Crack­nell with Jor­dan Connell, , at the week­end

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