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Oxford rower complains about ‘too much poo in water’ after heartbreaking Boat Race loss to Cambridge

Oxford rower Leonard Jenkins has bemoaned “too much poo in the water” of the Boat Race after members of his team fell ill before a crushing defeat to rivals Cambridge on the River Thames.

Oxford entered the men’s race as significant favourites with the bookmakers, but Cambridge produced a fine performance and clinched victory despite Matt Edge almost collapsing in a scary moment during the closing stages.

Build-up to the race was overshadowed earlier in the week after rowers were warned to not enter the water after E coli bacteria was discovered.

New safety guidance saw teams opt against the traditional celebration for the winning team, where team members jump into the river and the cox gets a ducking.

The River Action campaign group found an average of 2,869 E coli colony-forming units (CFU) per 100ml of water in 16 tests around Hammersmith Bridge, falling well short of the Environment Agency’s inland bathing water quality standards, which state that the level should be below 1,000 CFU per 100ml.

And Jenkins revealed after the defeat that he came down with illness, alongside some of his teammates, on the morning of the race.

“I don't have any words,” Jenkins told BBC Sport. “We had a clear plan of what we wanted to do. We had a really good set up, the last couple of days have been amazing. It didn't come together on the day, that's disappointing. But I couldn't be prouder of the guys. It's been a great battle.

“It's a shame the results doesn't suit that, Cambridge showed their class and did to us what we wanted to do for them. Maybe experience [was the difference]? I'm not sure.

“I didn't expect it to be such a big difference. I will also say, it's in no way to take away from Cambridge. We've had a few guys go down pretty badly with the E Coli strain. This morning I was throwing up and I really wasn't sure there was a chance for me to be in the boat. I kept that quiet, that's on my shoulders.

“I'm not sure if that was the right choice because I didn't feel like I had much to give. But it would have been taking one of the top guys out of Isis and ruining their chances.

“I felt like we needed to give them a fair fight. It would have been ideal to not have so much poo in the water. That's not to take away from Cambridge, I don't know if we would have had a chance to beat them even if we were all on form.”