Rowing hero James Cracknell splits with TV host wife of 17 years

EXCLUSIVE: Olympic rowing hero James Cracknell splits with TV host wife Beverley Turner who nursed star back to health from devastating brain injury as couple end 17-year marriage

  • The rower and his broadcaster wife, who have three children, have told of their sadness at the split
  • In a statement the couple confirmed their separation and said they remained committed to their ‘amazing children’
  • Cracknell, 46, will become the oldest rower in University boat race history when he represents Cambridge next Sunday
  • Star has spent the past eight months living away from his family as a mature student at Cambridge University where he is studying for a masters
  • Beverley, 45, is being supported by her parents who have been staying with her over the past few weeks
  • Marriage came under intense pressure in 2010 after Cracknell suffered a crippling brain injury
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Olympic rowing hero James Cracknell has split from his TV presenter wife Beverley Turner, who nursed him back to health from a devastating brain injury, MailOnline can reveal.

The double Olympic gold medal winner Cracknell, 46, and Beverley, 45, told of their sadness as they confirmed the end of their 17-year marriage.

The couple said in a statement today: ‘We can confirm that sadly we separated last year.

‘Together, we remain committed to our amazing children, they are our absolute priority and wish people to be kind and mindful of this.’


Olympic rowing hero James Cracknell has split from his TV presenter wife Beverley Turner, who nursed him back to health from a devastating brain injury, MailOnline can reveal




The double Olympic gold medal winner Cracknell, 46, and Beverley, 45, told of their sadness as they confirmed the end of their 17-year marriage


The couple (last pictured together in June last year) said in a statement today: ‘Together, we remain committed to our amazing children, they are our absolute priority and wish people to be kind and mindful of this.’

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The end of their union comes a week before Cracknell will become the oldest rower in University boat race history when he represents Cambridge.

The star has spent the past eight months living away from his family as a mature student at Cambridge University where he is studying for a MPhil in human evolutionary studies and training for next Sunday’s event on the River Thames,

His wife has remained at their London home looking after their three children and focussing on her TV career and as a pregnancy expert adviser.

A friend of the couple said: ‘It always sad when a marriage breaks down and theirs is no different.

‘I don’t think anyone else is involved, they seem to have simply grown apart and separated at the end of last year.

‘Their main priority is the children. They have been concerned that it affects them as little as possible and Beverley is taking them on holiday for Easter. 

‘James and Bev will always be good friends and carry on being the best parents they can,’ they added.

The marriage came under intense pressure in 2010 after Cracknell suffered a crippling brain injury.

The Olympic champion, who retired from elite rowing in 2006 and became an endurance athlete was cycling, running and rowing across America when he was hit from behind by a lorry’s wing mirror. 


The couple married in 2002 at Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean and went on to form one of the most glamourous pairs in the worlds of sport and showbusiness


They have three children Croyde, 14 who was named after Croyde Bay in Devon where his parents got engaged, and two daughters, Kili, 10 , and eight-year-old Trixie


Cracknell, who won gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics as well as six world championship medals, has been living in Cambridge where he is studying and training for the boat race

While the couple have attempted to continue with normal family life, broadcaster Beverley hinted at strains in the marriage during an interview last year.

She said: ‘We have had to work quite hard to make sure our relationship is ok because the kids would quite like us to stay together.

‘On the whole it’s better for us to stay together although it is incredibly difficult.

‘We are 17 years together now and we were first together I think Heat magazine did a ‘we give it two weeks’ and that is what has spurred us on – to prove people wrong. It’s not perfect.’

Beverley added: ‘The reality is every relationship will go a bit sh*t.’

Despite his marriage crisis, Cracknell has done his best to focus his attention on his studies and the Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford universities when, at 46, he will become the oldest ever competitor since it began in 1829.

He has described his selection to represent Cambridge University in the famous Thames boat race as his ‘proudest moment in rowing.’

To blend in with the young University hopefuls, he regularly ‘mucks in’ with students more than half his age while training on the Great Ouse at Ely for the Boat Race on April 7.

Cracknell said of his time in Cambridge in a recent interview: ‘I miss my wife and children but I’m showing my kids if you work hard you can achieve great things.’

The couple married in 2002 at Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean and went on to form one of the most glamourous pairs in the worlds of sport and showbusiness and were regular faces together on the party and charity circuit. 


Beverley is being supported by her parents who have been staying with her over the past few weeks. She was pictured having lunch with a male friend in London last week


Beverley, who was born in Prestwich, Lancashire, pictured driving with a male friend, has not been seen wearing her wedding ring for the past six months

They have three children Croyde, 14 who was named after Croyde Bay in Devon where his parents got engaged, and two daughters, Kili, 10 ,and eight-year-old Trixie.

The couple have attempted to prevent the split from affecting their children with Cracknell taking a break from his punishing training schedule last weekend to visit the family home to see them.

Beverley, who was born in Prestwich, Lancashire, is being supported by her parents who have been staying with her over the past few weeks.

She also recently went to visit her brother Adrian Turner, a former Olympic swimmer.

Last week, she was spotted having lunch with a male friend at Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond, south-west London, which specialises in Italian food.

After eating they went on a long walk beside the banks of the River Thames, locked in deep conversation.

Beverley, who previously worked for BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC and also once presented ITV’s Formula One coverage, has not been seen wearing her wedding ring for the past six months and was last publicly pictured with Cracknell last June.

Beverley has spoken movingly about her struggle to cope after Cracknell’s crash.

She has told about her struggle to cope with the aggressive, disorientated stranger he became, she confessed: ‘Every moment of my life, from the time he was in that hospital bed in Arizona was about getting James back to the person he once was.’

Cracknell himself said he was ‘lucky to be alive’ after the accident, which happened when he was hit from behind by a petrol tanker while heading from Los Angeles to New York and was left with an injury to the frontal lobes of his brain. 


Despite his marriage crisis, Cracknell has done his best to focus his attention on his studies and the Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford universities when, at 46, he will become the oldest ever competitor since it began in 1829


To blend in with the young University hopefuls, he regularly ‘mucks in’ with students more than half his age while training on the Great Ouse at Ely for the Boat Race on April 7


English rowers, from left, James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent pictured together celebrating with their gold medals on the podium at Sydney 2000 Olympics

His crash helmet was shorn in two, and he later revealed the incident had left him with epilepsy, a changed personality and a short temper. Beverley was pregnant with their third child at the time.

The star was filming a series called Cracknell’s Race Across America, in which he was to attempt running, cycling and rowing across the US in 18 days.

He was later flown back to the UK to recover in a London hospital.

The rower has admitted to the toll the accident has taken on their relationship, once revealing in a newspaper interview: ‘It can be hard to feel like we’re a married unit any more. We’re more of a team but in a weird way like a sporting unit rather than a loving one… It’s not ideal for a marriage but a firm base to build from and hopefully we’ll get back to where we were. Marriage is a hard thing anyway. That is true on a magnified scale with brain injury.’

The couple have been admired for the way they rebuilt their relationship and family life and continued with their respective high profile careers. 


The marriage came under intense pressure in 2010 after Cracknell suffered a crippling brain injury when he was involved in a crash with a truck while cycling in the US


Cracknell himself said he was ‘lucky to be alive’ after the accident, which happened when he was hit from behind by a petrol tanker while heading from Los Angeles to New York


 The star, who was left with an injury to the frontal lobes of his brain, was filming a series called Cracknell’s Race Across America, in which he was to attempt running, cycling and rowing across the US in 18 days

The collaborated on ‘Touching Distance’, a revealing book about their experience in which at one stage Beverley feared the man she once knew as her husband was going to kill her because of the personality change that he went through following the accident.

She wrote: ‘The tension in our house is reaching boiling point, and I’m with James almost 24 hours a day. It has been another long, upsetting, difficult day that culminates in Croyde crying himself to sleep after another hurtful telling-off from James. I lose it. I say I’ve had enough and he needs to get better elsewhere because it is too much for us. But I’m not calm and beseeching. I’m angry and exhausted.

‘I am already only too aware that 75 per cent of marriages do not survive a TBI (traumatic brain injury). When I read the books they confirm that it is this self-centred behaviour that is often the final blow for families.’

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