Double gold Olympian to start Chariots of Fire

Double Olympic gold medalist and World Champion rower Tom James, MBE, will start this year’s Chariots of Fire event, Dr Andrew Harter, High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, has announced.

Tom, a Cambridge Blue, studied engineering at Trinity Hall and was President of Cambridge University Boat Club in 2007 when his crew beat Oxford by a length and a quarter.  Setting his sights on the Olympics he won his first gold medal at Beijing in 2008, beating the Australian coxless four, who had led for most of the race, in a thrilling finish. 

In 2011 Tom won gold in the World Championships en route to a second Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London games, beating Australia again in the final.  He appeared on the Royal Mail postage stamps that commemorated the gold medal winners and a gold painted post box was installed in Wrexham where he grew up.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Tom has agreed to be our starter,” said Dr Harter, a lifelong supporter of rowing together with his wife Lily Bacon who is senior captain of St Edmunds College Boat Club.  “There are parallels with runner Harold Abrahams, whose story was told in the Chariots of Fire film, the inspiration for our charity race.  Both were Cambridge Blues, and both were determined to go on and win Olympic gold.”

Now in its 26th year, entries are coming in fast for the much loved race which takes place on Sunday 16 September.  The beneficiary will be the High Sheriff’s Award Scheme, managed by Cambridge Community Foundation, which will provide grants to groups which increase young people’s skills and confidence through volunteering in the community.

Chariots of Fire is sponsored and organised by Cambridge law firm Hewitsons, through Hewitsons Charitable Trust.  This year there is a bonus for the High Sheriff’s charitable fundraising.  Community foundations in the UK have established a fund called #iwill which will match up to £30,000 for projects that encourage youth social involvement.  This means that the first £30,000 raised by Chariots of Fire teams will become £60,000 for the High Sheriff’s Fund to allocate.

The Chariots of Fire race is not an Olympic challenge, but taking part in a sponsored team of six will help others, and young people in particular.  Each runner does a lap of 1.7 miles round the scenic city centre and through the Colleges before handing over the baton.  It’s a fun event open to all, in a carnival atmosphere, with a feel-good factor.

Main Image by Daily Post Wales