james cracknell strictly

James Cracknell shares fears Strictly exhaustion could trigger epilepsy

The Olympian was bottom of the leader board following Saturday's opening episode

Gemma Strong

James Cracknell has shared his concerns that the gruelling Strictly Come Dancing rehearsal schedule could trigger an epileptic fit. The Olympian has suffered from seizures ever since he was involved in a near-fatal collision when a truck collided with his bike during the filming for Cracknell's Race Across America in 2010. And in an interview with the Sun, he explained that his fits are often triggered by tiredness. James, who has warned his Strictly partner Luba Mushtuk of his condition, said: "Some people get epilepsy from strobe lighting, but not me. I don't want to worry Luba but mine is set off by fatigue. When I've had a seizure it's been because of not sleeping."

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James Cracknell finished bottom of the leader board on Saturday

The 47-year-old rower continued; "Epilepsy comes with a bit of a stigma. One of the drawbacks is that it's a hidden disability. I think it's important for anyone who has a profile to get other people to understand it."

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James has had a shaky start on Strictly. He came bottom of the leader board on Saturday after dancing the Tango with Luba to Gold by Spandau Ballet. Judge Craig Revel Horwood was particularly scathing, telling the athlete: "Your posture is your main concern. You're meant to be forming a V shape, in fact, you were hunched over. On top of that, your bottom was sticking way out. It lacked any sharp moves. It was very lethargic I'm afraid."

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James pictured with his son Croyde in 2011

Nevertheless, dad-of-three James has his sights firmly set on making it to week four of the competition for a very special reason – it's his eldest child's 16th birthday. The double-Olympic gold medallist hopes that if he makes it that far his son Croyde will come and watch him dance live on his birthday, telling HELLO! and other journalists: "My girlfriend has gone 'well, I would ask for a ticket but you won't be in long enough!' That's what the assumption is. So folks will go and watch week one, but… my oldest is sixteen on the fourth week and you have to be sixteen to go so it's a kind of – it would be nice."

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James previously revealed that it was Croyde who was with him when he had his first epileptic fit. His son was just 10 at the time, and quickly called 999 while keeping his dad comfortable until the paramedics arrived. "My son turns 16 soon and it's good for him to see me doing Strictly. When I had my first seizure it was me and him at home and he had to call the ambulance," James said. "He sees how bad I am, a lot. So for him to see me do this would actually be good for him. I want to show him I'm going to be around for a while. It's been tough for him. We didn't know I had epilepsy, it just happened, but he acted fast."