STRICTLY’S James Cracknell fears exhaustion from taking part in the show could cause an epileptic fit — after he began suffering the condition following a near-fatal accident.
The Olympic gold medallist, 47, whose son saved him after his first seizure, was bottom of the leaderboard in Saturday night’s opening episode.
He was awarded just 11 points for his Tango with partner Luba Mushtuk, 29.
But Cracknell has told the Russian professional that he must be careful during their ten-hour training days as his seizures are triggered by tiredness.
He developed epilepsy after he fractured his skull and suffered bruising to the brain when a truck hit his bike outside Winslow in Arizona in 2010.
He was shooting a TV series called Cracknell’s Race Across America in which he was aiming to run, cycle and row across the US in 18 days.
Cracknell told The Sun: “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.
“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.”
Cracknell was blasted on Saturday night’s show for his wooden performance. Judge Craig Revel Horwood said his “posture was hunched” and his bottom was “sticking way out.”
I WANT TO SHOW MY SON I’LL BE AROUND FOR A WHILE
One viewer tweeted: “James Cracknell looks like he should be opening the door at The Addams Family mansion.”
Another said: “James Cracknell had a massively serious head injury a few years ago. So I’m trying to cut him some slack . . . But. Erm . . . that was awful. As wooden as his oars.”
Cracknell, who is already the favourite to be booted off first, is hoping he can prove he is fighting fit by making some progress in the competition.
But he admits he almost died after suffering his first epileptic episode at home and says he was only saved by son, Croyde.
The lad was just ten when he found his dad fitting and was sharp enough to dial 999 and to keep his dad comfortable until the paramedics arrived.
Cracknell said: “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. 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.”
He and Croyde teamed up in 2015 to help save a family from drowning while surfing in Devon.
Croyde spotted a grandad Jim Greatorex, 67, and his seven-year-old grandson struggling in the water. He alerted his dad and the pair dashed over to save them.
Meanwhile, Cracknell has hit back at critics who say he is having a mid-life crisis by taking part in the show and hooking up with a much younger girlfriend while divorcing Beverley Turner, 45, his wife of 17 years.
The couple also had two daughters — ten-year-old Kiki and Trixie, eight.
Cracknell, who won gold medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, has also enrolled as a mature student at Cambridge University.
It was there he met his new lover, American financier Jordan Connell, who is in her early 30s.
Cracknell denied being upset by criticism of their relationship but said he was worried about the talk affecting his partner Luba and other Strictly dancers.
He said: “Doing a show that a quarter of the country watches, you’re always going to lose the right to moan about anything that’s written about you.
“I guess the people you are close to, they know the truth. But I’m aware that there’s a massive team doing the show and I don’t want anything negative to be brought on to the show which might affect the show or Luba or anything. If it’s just me, well, fine.”
Cracknell admitted he was unsure if he was having a mid-life crisis.
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He said: “I don’t know! Certainly I’m having a shift of direction.
“I went back to studying at university to stop what I felt the perceptions were of me after a nasty accident. I thought if I can do that, and do what I used to do with rowing, then fine.
“And Strictly is a brilliant opportunity. I’m having a go at something I’m really not very good at. So many people watching would love to do this, and learn how to dance. I’m amazingly lucky to be able to do it.”
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