By Jayden Oni
From claiming an Olympic Gold medal at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles to becoming a current history teacher and coach at Hampton, Mr Cross has had a successful life so far – a vivid story to tell. In his youth, Mr Cross never thought that his delicate rowing talent would ever lead to his fulfilled life today, yet he trained hard to achieve his goals. Even after retiring from his rowing career, Mr Cross began working as a History teacher and rowing coach at Hampton, which partially maintained his connection with the sport he used to play.
One key moment in Mr Cross’s youth was when he was first introduced to rowing at his school, by his father, who worked there. However, Mr Cross soon ran into one major obstacle through playing the sport. “It would be a very long journey from a school boy to becoming a professional rower,” he says. :There were many people better than me at the sport in my school, and I couldn’t really figure out why.”
However, Mr Cross had an inspiration. He was inspired to join a rowing club; this forced Mr Cross to train with people better than him, which was eventually what helped him to excel in his sport.
After turning professional, he had three consecutive unsuccessful years, which Mr Cross says pushed him to become more competitive and determined. But from loss came victory. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Mr Cross won a gold medal with the Men’s coxed four. This was a momentous, significant event in Mr Cross’ rowing career and also an educational one. “The biggest lesson I learned about my win is that Olympic Champions are just ordinary people who do extra-ordinary things. In my youth, I did not particularly believe I was a good rower.”
After Mr Cross’s rowing career, he was keen to find another job that would still keep a connection with the sport he loved. He fortunately found a job at Hampton, where he could simultaneously teach History and coach rowing. He started well. “In my first year for Hampton, Hampton won so many titles, and I was very proud to have my name on the notice board thanking me for my coaching.”
He also stated that he focuses on Hampton boys’ self belief whilst he coaches. Mr Cross believes that if you tell someone they are good at something when they are not, it pushes them on to try harder yet to not give up.
Mr Cross, despite his weekly schedule being already busy enough, also frequently appears in the media, whether it would be for a sports game show or even just a commentary on rowing. He was the BBC 5Live Rowing Correspondent, giving reports on rowing races and sometimes Olympic regattas. In the summer, Mr Cross currently does a lot of television commentary on rowing.
He spoke of his interest in media. “I really like the media because it further keeps me connected to rowing, but the disadvantage is, is that it takes up time, so I have to further balance my time throughout the week”
Mr Cross also wrote an autobiography, detailing his self-proclaimed “Olympic obsession”, despite his belief at school that he was not capable of writing for a living.
Our interview ended with some apt wisdom from a man who’s achieved vast amounts in the sport: “I believe that the one thing you can take away from my life so far is that you can always improve at anything in life, regardless of how bad you are at it.”