Cox tells of Boat Race ‘hell’

Zoe De Toledo broke down in tears after seeing her chances of leading Oxford to victory at the Boat Race snatched away after a bizarre turn of events.
What was supposed to be one of the proudest days of her life turned into a nightmare as the drama unfolded.

With the team well-placed for victory, De Toledo, 24, was forced to hastily navigate the Oxford boat away from Trenton Oldfield, who had jumped into the Thames. The anti-elitism campaigner, who escaped unscathed, was later charged with a public order offence.

When the race was restarted, Oxford’s chances were dealt another blow when Hanno Wienhausen suffered a broken blade after a collision with the Cambridge crew.

De Toledo, appealed to the referee John Garrett to start the race again, but they were turned down as Garrett felt that Oxford were to blame for the collision and had ignored his previous warnings.

Oxford trailed home four-and-a-quarter lengths behind their rivals and De Toledo could only look on helplessly as crew member Dr Alexander Woods, the bow in the Oxford boat, collapsed due to exhaustion. He was later released from hospital.

"We are devastated that we did not get the chance to find out what we were capable of achieving in the second half of the race and many of us will never have that opportunity again,” said an inconsolable De Toledo.

"Ultimately it is just a tragedy that neither crew had the opportunity to display their best ability over the full course from Putney to Mortlake.

"Seeing how the guys attacked the race in the last five minutes was simultaneously one of the worst, but also one of the proudest moments of my life."

The Henley-based student believes that she has learned a lot about herself from the experience 12 months after leading the Isis boat to victory in the reserve race.

"I truly learned what it was to be part of a team, a team which rallies around you when you are at your lowest.

"We are all extremely proud of the race as an event and accept bizarre events like these do happen. That’s sport."

    Last updated: 1:52pm, April 11 2012