James Cracknell: 'I want my old personality back'

James Cracknell suffered severe injuries after being hit by a lorry's wing mirror while cycling across America in 2010. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Archive

Double Olympic gold medal winner James Cracknell has said he wants his old personality to return after a life-changing brain injury he suffered three years ago.

Cracknell opens up about his life and career as an oarsman and adventurer in James Cracknell: Sports Life Stories on ITV4 at 10pm tomorrow.

The champion rower won gold in the coxless fours in Sydney in 2000 and in Athens in 2004 before embarking on a series of physical challenges after retiring from the sport.

It was on an epic cycling trip across America in 2010 that he suffered severe injuries when he was hit by the wing mirror of a lorry.

James Cracknell is determined not to be defined by his Olympic medals. Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Cracknell now suffers from epilepsy and said he has lost feelings like empathy and motivation after the accident.

But most of all, he said he wants his wife, television presenter Beverley, to say he is his old self once more.

“Probably to hear Bev say, ‘You’re back’, it would be nice to hear that,” Cracknell said.

James Cracknell celebrated another Olympic gold along with the crew of the coxless fours in Athens in 2004. Credit: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

Before his accident, Cracknell took to skiing across Antarctica and later ran seven marathons in six days.

His former rowing team-mate, Sir Steve Redgrave, said Cracknell may have taken on such arduous challenges because he felt unfulfilled as an athlete.

Cracknell said he is determined not to be defined by his Olympic medals and now plans to stand as a member of the European Parliament in the May 2014 elections.