Boat race intruder calls for Olympic havoc

Trenton Oldfield, a self-styled anti-elitist campaigner who swam into the path of competing crews at the University Boat Race, has called for like-minded individuals to follow his lead and cause havoc at the London 2012 Olympics.


Oldfield's actions caused the annual rowing race between student crews from Oxford and Cambridge to be halted and restarted 30 minutes later with the intruder later charged by police.

Television pictures showed how close their oars had come to the 35-year old, who will appear before magistrates on April 23 charged under the Public Order Act.

While his cause seems unclear, he claimed his actions were similar to Emily Davison, the women's suffrage activist who threw herself under the King's horse during the 1913 Derby and died four days later.

Although others will say such publicity seeking antics are more similar to defrocked Irish priest Cornelius Horan, who ran onto the track during the 2003 British F1 Grand Prix and disrupted the Olympic men's marathon in Athens one year later, pushing Brazilian Vanderlei de Lima, who was leading the race at the time.

"Are there events like today’s Boat Race that you could do something similar to Emily Davison with?" wrote Oldfield, in a blog post published on a website titled Elitism leads to tyranny.

"Is this possible in the lead up to and within the Olympics itself?"

He added: "Only yesterday did a British government minister suggest that citizens should ‘shop’ (dob-in) people they know to be organising or attending a protest related to the forthcoming Olympic Games.

"Along with the brutality the police and military are prepared to use against organised peaceful protestors, it seems it might be time to employ ‘little war’/‘guerrilla tactics’."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said Mr Oldfield had been charged with a Section 5 offence under the Public Order Act and bailed to appear at Feltham Magistrates' Court on April 23.

One of Olympic organisers Locog's biggest fears is individuals disrupting the progress of the torch relay and the various free events, such as road race cycling, triathlon and marathons.

And Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Broadhurst, who will be in charge of the policing operation, admitted last month that attention-seekers, such as Oldfield, were his major concern.

A torch security team of 28 unarmed Metropolitan Police officers will guard the Olympic flame as it travels around Britain on a 70-day relay to the start of the Games.

Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford Boat Club, blamed the intruder for ruining the rowers' big day, writing on Twitter: "To Trenton Oldfiled (sic); my team went through seven months of hell, this was the culmination."

The drama brought back memories of the 2004 Olympics Marathon in Athens where a kilted intruder darted on to the road and bundled off the race leader. He was the same man who ran on the track at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2003.

Reserve umpire Matthew Pinsent, Britain's ex-Olympic and world champion rower, said of Saturday's incident and race re-run: "It's not ideal but given those circumstances what could we do? "It's a safety issue. Fortunately, we spotted him and stopped the race. What could we do? We couldn't possibly have carried on."

The Boat Race, first rowed in 1829, is a British institution and attracts a large TV audience worldwide as well as the thousands of people who line both sides of the river.

The 6.8 km race has witnessed many dramatic incidents over the years, including in 1912 when both boats sank. The last time it was stopped and restarted was in 2001 following a clash of blades after just one minute.

Saturday's victory put Cambridge on 81 wins, five ahead of Oxford with one dead heat.

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