Tom James

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For the rugby union player, see Tom James (rugby player). For the English footballer, see Tom James (footballer). For other people, see Thomas James (disambiguation).
Tom James MBE
Tom James MBE.jpg
Personal information
Birth name Thomas James
Nationality British
Born (1984-03-11) 11 March 1984 (age 32)
Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales
Residence Henley-on-Thames, England
Height 190 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight 85 kg (187 lb)
Country United Kingdom
Sport Men's rowing
Event(s) Coxless Four, Eight
College team Cambridge University
Club Molesey Boat Club
Coached by Jürgen Gröbler

Thomas James MBE (born 11 March 1984) is a British rower, twice Olympic champion and victorious Cambridge Blue.[1]

Early life[edit]

James was born in Cardiff on 11 March 1984,[2] but considers his hometown to be the village of Coedpoeth, near Wrexham.[1]


James was educated at Packwood Haugh School near Ruyton-XI-Towns,[3] and then at The King's School, Chester, where he took up the sport of rowing.[1] He went up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 2002, obtaining his undergraduate degree in engineering in 2007.[1][4]

The Boat Race[edit]

Whilst at Cambridge University, James was a member of Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) and took part in The Boat Race four times in five years between 2003 and 2007 (taking a year off to train for the 2004 Summer Olympics).[1] He was elected president of CUBC for the 2006–07 academic year.[1]

Having concentrated his efforts on the Olympics in 2004, James returned to Cambridge in 2005. Both universities had extremely strong intakes that year, with Cambridge boasting several world champions and the Oxford crew including Olympic silver medalist Barney Williams. Oxford won the epic contest by 2 lengths in a time of 16 minutes 41 seconds.[5] In 2006, the weather was particularly bad, and Cambridge lost again, this time by 5 lengths.[6]

After three years of disappointment, James returned to the boat race one final time in 2007, this time as President of CUBC. In a race where Cambridge were strong favourites based on the team members' individual successes, the light blues showed their class by staying in touch while Oxford had the advantage, and pushing on with tidier rowing from the halfway point. They rowed on to win by a length and a quarter, finally providing James with a victory at the fourth attempt.[7]

International rowing career[edit]

Having won a bronze medal in 2001 with GB Junior eights and silver in 2002 at the Junior World Rowing Championships, James won his first senior international vest in 2003.[1] He stroked the Great Britain Eight, which won a bronze medal at the World Championships in Milan.[1]

Following this success, James decided that training for the Olympics and studying for his engineering degree were incompatible. He took a year off from his studies at Cambridge, and trained with the Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames. The build up to the Olympics for the GB Men's Rowing Squad was somewhat disrupted due to illness, injury and variable form. James fell ill the night before the Heat in the Olympic competition – a devastating blow and whilst he returned for the repechage, the crew failed to make the final.

After taking a break from international rowing, James returned to the British Team in 2006, forming a pair with Oxford rival Colin Smith.[8] The duo raced to a surprise silver behind reigning world champions New Zealand at the Lucerne World Cup regatta to earn selection for the world championships at Eton's Dorney Lake, making the final and finishing sixth.

In Summer 2007 he was subbed in for Alex Partridge in the flagship British rowing boat, the coxless four, which won Henley Royal Regatta in July 2007 and then took silver seven days later in the Lucerne World Cup Regatta.[9]

He was then selected in the GB coxed four for the world championships in Munich, but was promoted to the bow seat of the eight when the original incumbent fell ill on the morning of the heats. The crew made the final, securing GB qualification for the Beijing Olympics, and took the bronze behind Canada and Germany.

Reunited with Colin Smith in a pair, James finished second at the GB final trials regatta in March, 2008, to put himself well on course for a place at his second Olympics. He was then selected for the GB coxless four along with Andy Triggs-Hodge, Steve Williams and Peter Reed.[10]

After a difficult early season, with both James and Triggs-Hodge picking up injuries, the four raced together for the first time in Poznan in the final World Cup event of the season, finishing third. The GB four then dominated their heats and semi finals at the Olympics Beijing. In the final, however, the Australian four led for most of the way. Only a dramatic push by the British boat in the closing stages made the difference; they won the nail-biting final to become gold medallists in a time of 6 minutes 6.57 seconds, beating the Australian four by 1.28 seconds.

At the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia, James raced in the men's four with crew-mates Matthew Langridge, Ric Egington and Alex Gregory winning a gold medal ahead of Greece in second and Australia in third.[11]

Post box in Wrexham painted gold to celebrate Tom James' gold medal win at the 2012 Summer Olympics

At the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the GB 4 of James and Alex Gregory, Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge beat main rivals Australia in the semi-finals, and then repeated their win in the final.[12] All British gold medal winners at the 2012 Olympics were honoured with appearing on Royal Mail postage stamps, and having a post box in their home town painted gold. James' "golden" post box is located in Wrexham where he grew up.[13] Tom James was also provided with a second gold post box in Coedpoeth.[14]

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[15]

James lives in Henley-on-Thames, rowing for Molesey Boat Club, Surrey.[2]

James retired from professional rowing in November 2013, hoping to establish a career in business consultancy.[16]

University Challenge[edit]

On 2 January 2015 James was a member of the winning team on Christmas University Challenge, representing Trinity Hall, Cambridge who defeated Balliol College, Oxford, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Hull. His teammates were world champion cyclist Emma Pooley, novelist Adam Mars-Jones, and actor Dan Starkey.[17]



  • 2012 London - Gold, Coxless Four (3 seat)
  • 2008 Beijing – Gold, Coxless Four (bow)
  • 2004 Athens – 9th, Eight (stroke)

World championships[edit]

  • 2011 Bled - Gold, Coxless Four
  • 2007 Munich – Bronze, Eight (bow)[2]
  • 2006 Eton – 6th, Coxless Pair (stroke)[2]
  • 2003 Milan – Bronze, Eight (stroke)

Junior World championships[edit]

World Cups[edit]

  • 2012 Lucerne - Gold, Coxless four (3 seat)
  • 2012 Belgrade - Gold, Coxless Four (3 seat)
  • 2011 Munich - Gold, Coxless Four (3 seat)
  • 2011 Lucerne - Gold, Coxless Four (3 seat)
  • 2007 Lucerne – Silver, Coxless Four (3 seat)
  • 2006 Lucerne – Silver, Coxless Pair (stroke)
  • 2004 Lucerne – 6th, Eight (stroke)
  • 2004 Munich – 4th, Eight (stroke)
  • 2004 Poznań – 5th, Eight (stroke)
  • 2003 Milan – 3rd, Eight (stroke)
  • 2003 Lucerne – 1st, Eight (stroke)
  • 2003 Munich – 3rd, Eight (stroke)

The Boat Race[edit]

  • 2007 – 5 – Won
  • 2006 – 7 – Lost
  • 2005 – 7 – Lost
  • 2003 – 6 – Lost

GB Rowing Team Senior Trials[edit]

  • 2012 - 4th, Coxless Pair
  • 2011 - 2nd, Coxless Pair

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Profile: Tom James". BBC Sport website. BBC. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Athlete Profile: Tom James". Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Second Olympic gold for Old Packwoodian Tom". Packwood Haugh School. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Annual Review 2005–2006" (PDF). University of Cambridge Sport. p. 26. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Oxford capture Boat Race success". BBC. 27 March 2005. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Oxford triumph in 152nd Boat Race". BBC. 2 April 2006. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cambridge claim Boat Race victory". BBC. 7 April 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Quarrell, Rachel (8 July 2006). "Britons to fore in Lucerne". Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "GB four maintains World Cup form". BBC. 13 July 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Final GB rowers named after trial". BBC. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Cross, Martin (4 September 2011). "Double gold for Britain ends World Rowing Championships on a high". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Rower Tom James wins Wales' second Olympic gold". BBC. 4 August 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Rower Tom James's gold post box and stamp honour". BBC. 5 August 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Gold Post boxes 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 18. 31 December 2008.
  16. ^ Barretto, Lawrence. "Tom James: Double Olympic rowing champion retires". BBC. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "University Challenge Victory". Trinity Hall, Cambridge. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 

External links[edit]