'It wasn't a life I wanted to live any more': James Cracknell's ex Beverley Turner on why she had to walk away from their marriage

Katie Archer
Contributor

James Cracknell’s ex Beverley Turner has spoken about the difficulties of being married to a single-minded Olympian, saying: “It wasn’t really a life I wanted to live any more” – although she admitted to being glad he had met someone who didn’t know him before his brain injury.

TV presenter Turner was a guest on ITV’s Lorraine show, where she talked about what had lead to her separation from Olympic rower husband Cracknell earlier this year and how they feel about each other now.

Read more: James Cracknell reveals the real reason for his divorce

Saying that they both made a big effort to remain amicable for the sake of their three children, she joked: “Even if on days when you really just want to hire an assassin and take each other out.

“Which I think, anybody getting divorced, you do have those days, course you do. But we know, bigger picture, the children are more important than anything.”

Cracknell, who was recently the first celebrity voted out of Strictly Come Dancing 2019, was knocked off his bike by a truck while filming a challenge to cross the USA nearly 10 years ago. The incident left him in a coma and with some permanent brain damage.

Talking about how the accident had affected their relationship, Turner said: “James’s injuries were to his frontal lobe, so that’s personality and emotional processing. He was very different. The accident will be 10 years next summer.

“He’s come an incredibly long way in that period of time, culminating in his going to university and doing his master’s… From waking up in a coma to going to university.”

Read more: James Cracknell’s self-esteem shaken after Strictly exit

She added of his new girlfriend: “The great thing is he’s met someone who didn’t know him before the accident.

“[If you knew him before] you’re constantly looking for the first person. You see differences. If you didn’t know him before, you’d probably think he was perfectly normal. Bit scruffy and clearly can’t dance – you wouldn’t necessarily think, ‘That’s a guy with a brain injury.’”

Turner also spoke frankly about the challenges of being married to a professional athlete, saying she was often left on her own during family holidays while Cracknell continued his training, and adding that the pursuit of being the best at sport was “quite a childlike thing to do”.

She said: “I have always said, show me a room of Olympic gold medallists and I’ll show you a room full of people with very low self-esteem.”

Turner continued: “Those individuals that do it are not necessarily easy to live with – whether they are male or female.

Read more: James Cracknell reveals Strictly epilepsy fears

“That single-minded determination can be amazing and achieve incredible things, but it does mean you can sit on a beach on your own [while they are off training] for three hours. Which is hard.

“It wasn’t really a life I wanted to live any more. We weren’t setting a good example to the children of what a loving relationship should be like, and that was a big thing for me.”

Turner is also now in a new relationship and said: “I feel very lucky. Early days. Younger man, what’s not to like?”

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