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Is James Cracknell Unstoppable?

22nd March 2011

Former Olympic rower James Cracknell hits TV screens this week, documenting his recovery from an accident that damaged his brain.

In the summer of 2010 Cracknell was cycling through Arizona on an endurance mission when his life changed forever. The Olympic gold medallist was hit from behind by a petrol tanker, and was left fighting for his life.

His brain had hit the inside of his skull on impact, damaging the frontal lobe – the area that controls personality, decision-making and concentration. He may never fully recover.

The Discovery channel trilogy, Unstoppable?, chronicles how the athlete has surmounted his injuries and continues to invite new physical challenges into his life.

The 38-year-old shared gold medal glory with Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and again in Athens four years later.

At the time of the accident he was in the middle of a challenge to cross America by a variety of means in 18 days. That leg of the journey was a 2,500 mile cycle ride along Route 66.

“I find these challenges fun,” he told the Sunday Times. “(I was) just a pretty average kid getting pretty average grades. Perhaps I wanted people to notice me."

He was not even exceptional at sport at school, it was only when he discovered rowing at 15 that his talents became apparent.

“My academic grades got better and I matured very quickly,” he said.

Cracknell has recently completed the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a series of races on foot, skis, and bike, over a freezing 430 mile course.

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