Risking his health for 'Strictly': James Cracknell reveals epileptic seizure fears over long training sessions

Katie Archer
Contributor
(BBC)

James Cracknell has revealed he is risking his life by taking part in Strictly Come Dancing because the exhausting training schedule could spark an epileptic fit.

The Olympic rower developed epilepsy after a devastating accident in 2010 when a truck knocked him off his bike in Arizona while he was filming a documentary where he attempted to run, cycle and row across the USA.

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He said that he had to warn Strictly partner Luba Mushtuk of the health risks associated with their 10-hour-a-day training sessions as his seizures are brought on by fatigue.

Cracknell told The Sun: “Some people get epilepsy from strobe lighting but not me.

“I don’t want to worry Luba but mine is set off by fatigue. When I’ve had a seizure it’s been because of not sleeping.

“Epilepsy comes with a bit of a stigma. One of the drawbacks is that it’s a hidden disability.

“I think it’s important for anyone who has a profile to get other people to understand it.”

Former Olympic champion Cracknell had an incredibly tough recovery after his accident, but one of the lasting effects has been the epilepsy caused by bruising to his brain.

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One of his four children, son Croyde, was with him during his first seizure and aged just 10 years old at the time, saved his dad’s life by calling him an ambulance.

Cracknell said he was glad that his son could see him getting back to physical challenges, despite being bottom of the leaderboard with just 11 points from the first live Strictly show.

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He said: “My son turns 16 soon and it’s good for him to see me doing Strictly. When I had my first seizure it was me and him at home and he had to call the ambulance. He sees how bad I am, a lot. So for him to see me do this would actually be good for him.

“I want to show him I’m going to be around for a while.

“It’s been tough for him. We didn’t know I had epilepsy, it just happened, but he acted fast.”

Cracknell is currently the favourite to be eliminated first from Strictly after judges criticised his Tango for being wooden and “hunched”.