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James Cracknell reveals ‘crisis of confidence’ on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins following 2010 brain injury

James spoke about how his accident had affected the way people treated him (Picture: Channel 4)

On Sunday’s episode of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Olympic rower James Cracknell opened up about how his brain injury had ‘chipped away’ at his confidence, inspiring him to challenge himself with the show.

The 49-year-old, who recently married girlfriend Jordan Connell, was teamed up with singer Alexandra Burke on Team Alpha during the episode, which saw him help her through a particularly tricky cliff ascent when she was struggling.

Instructor Ant Middleton told the performer afterwards: ‘Alex – thanks to number six [James], you’re still here and you need to remember that.’

The DS (Directing Staff) then decided to pull James in for a chat after seeing how well he’d done with Alex, and the former athlete revealed that he ‘hadn’t expected it to be as full on as it was, mentally’.

He explained: ‘For me, one of the real reasons for coming here was I feel over the past few years I’ve lost a bit of confidence and I probably backed off doing the physical things better than I could have done, and I probably wasn’t being true to myself – and that has started to get better.’

Talking about the accident with a truck when he was cycling in 2010, which led to his brain injury, the ex-rower revealed his frustration at the limits that had been put on him because of it, and how that damaged his confidence.

James spoke with the instructors about his past (Picture: Channel 4)

‘The assumption with having had a serious brain injury is that that then defines the rest of my life – and you won’t be able to do that, you won’t be able to do that…’

Calling his ex-wife Beverley Turner, an ‘amazing woman’ and an ‘amazing wife’, he shared that the mindset had ‘come from home’ too.

‘She always viewed me through the prism of that incident,’ he admitted, which ‘chipped away’ at his confidence, especially with him choosing to ‘hide away’ rather than ‘reach out to mates’.

He finished: ‘You’re left thinking the worst things about yourself, and I’ve really struggled.’

James has been one of the quieter competitors so far (Picture: Pete Dadds/Channel 4/PA)

The double Olympic gold medallist also revealed that he ‘never wanted to be defined by having won the Olympics’.

‘It’s something I did, it’s not who I am,’ he said.

Instructors Jason Fox and Mark Billingham emphasised how impressed they were with him, as they said they hoped the show could be ‘another stepping-stone in the confidence build that you’re going through’.

Sunday night’s episode saw the five remaining recruits – James, Alexandra, Paralympian Aled Davis, Love Island star Wes Nelson and presenter Ore Oduba – split into two teams and tasked with transporting boats across boggy terrain, as well as performing an open water rescue exercise involving a capsized vessel and racing up a cliff.

The full cohort for this year’s series (Picture: Channel 4)

More: SAS: Who Dares Wins

Wes was picked up for his ‘mouthing off’, with Ant warning him: ‘Drop the attitude, drop the ego – otherwise you will find yourself on the chopping block.’

The recruits also faced emotional calls from home, which were set to either break them down further or build them up stronger.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins continues on Sunday at 9pm on Channel 4.

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