Olympic gold-winning rower James Cracknell has stepped out for the first time since proposing to his new fiancée, Jordan Connell, as she flashed her stunning ring.
The former Strictly star, 48, confirmed last week that he had proposed to the American financier, 35, after meeting her at Cambridge in 2018, where he was studying human evolution and she was training for an MBA.
Matching in black as they walked his new pug dog in West London, Jordan, who will be James’ second wife following his 16-year marriage to TV host Beverley Turner, was clad in a low-key look but was showcasing her dazzling ring.
Happy days: Olympic gold-winning rower James Cracknell has stepped out for the first time since proposing to his new fiancée, Jordan Connell, as she flashed her stunning ring
Jordan said: ‘James has an amazing personality. He’s funny and kind. It’s the little things like going out to track down a bar of Hershey’s chocolate for me.’
James and Beverley, the mother of his three children, divorced in 2019, a year after they split. Beverley is dating eco-property developer James Pritchett.
Father-of-three James’ exciting news comes nearly two years after he split from presenter Beverley Turner following 17 years of marriage.
The former couple broke up after a nine-year struggle following a crippling brain injury, which the TV host, 47, nursed him back to health from.
Yay! The former Strictly star, 48, confirmed last week that he had proposed to the American financier, 35, after meeting her at Cambridge in 2018, where he was studying human evolution and she was training for an MBA
Wedding bells: James Cracknell has revealed he’s engaged to his girlfriend of 17 months, Jordan Connell (pictured in 2019)
Special announcement: The sportsman confirmed the couple are set to wed in an announcement in The Times on Monday
The Olympian’s new fiancée, who is believed to divide her time between London and the US, spent 12 months training for an MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School while James studied for a masters in human evolution at Peterhouse College.
At 46, the former Strictly star became the oldest student to compete in the Boat Race at the prestigious university.
The pair started dating after finishing their degrees and have been living together in west London throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
James previously credited Jordan for his newfound confidence after his terrifying accident, and the former student cheerleader enthused she’s ‘ridiculously happy’ to have met her partner.
Former spouse: The 38-year-old rowing champion’s news comes nearly two years after he split from presenter Beverley Turner following 17 years of marriage (pictured in 2016)
Exciting times ahead: The father-of-three met the financier, 35, when he studied at Cambridge in 2018 (pictured in 2019)
In an interview with Daily Mail in 2019, the blonde gushed: ‘I like to think I make him happy, too.
‘When internet trolls were making cruel comments about his dancing and ‘wooden personality’ on Strictly I thought, ”How can you put that? You don’t know him.” I know he feels things very deeply.
‘I feel so strongly about bullying online. Try sitting down with the person you love when they’re upset by what’s being said because their children will read it. James does have an amazing personality. He’s funny and kind.
‘It’s the little things he does like going out to track down a bar of Hershey’s chocolate for me, which is special because it’s so hard to find in the UK.’
Love story: The financial consultant spent a year training for an MBA while the Olympian studied for a masters in human evolution (pictured in 2019)
Going strong: The pair started dating after finishing their degrees and have been living together in west London throughout the coronavirus pandemic (pictured last July)
James added: ‘One of the best things about going to Cambridge was, let’s face it, a lot of the students weren’t born when I won the Olympics. I really enjoyed meeting people who took me as I am.
‘To be honest, with Jordan the conversation was so easy and it was so nice to hang out with someone who had no preconceptions of who you were before.’
A source previously told MailOnline of their relationship: ‘They have become very close and since his marriage break up there are few people who would deny him the support of an attractive young woman.
‘The end of James’ marriage to Bev has been amicable and friendly but there’s always going to be regret and maybe loneliness when something like that happens so it’s great he’s going his own way.’
Trauma: The former couple split after a nine-year struggle following a crippling brain injury (pictured), which the TV host, 47, nursed him back to health from
The sportsman was left in a coma and sustained damage to the part of the brain that governs memory, personality, and speech after he was knocked off his bike by the wing mirror of a petrol tanker in Arizona.
Following his separation, Beverley reflected on how she helped him recover in an interview with The Times.
The Happy Birth Book author said at the time: ‘A formerly quiet man, he couldn’t stop talking, but certainly stopped listening. I had my silent screams in the shower so the children wouldn’t hear.
‘Acquired brain injury is contagious — the whole family catches it and soon everyone is snapping, sighing, arguing and slamming doors. After a brain injury a couple’s dynamic typically becomes one of parent and child, complete with nagging, resistance, resentment and sulking.
‘The ‘adult’ wants to nurture and protect the ‘child’ who they have almost lost once. Yet it’s crushing and stultifying for the survivor who just wants their independence.’
James also expressed his gratitude towards his first spouse for her help as he said: ‘I wouldn’t have made the recovery I have without her fire.
‘It’s not so nice when it’s not in your corner, but you can’t fall in love with an opinionated woman and then moan when she has an opinion. It hurts but it’s on me as well.
‘I wasn’t the best husband in the world. I wanted to go to Cambridge to get academic credibility for the work I was doing in public health. Beverley didn’t share my desire for me to go into politics. I don’t think she liked the idea of being a politician’s wife.’
Family first: Beverley and James are parents to three children; Croyde, 15, Kiki, 11, and Trixie, nine (pictured)
This Morning star Beverley petitioned for a divorce in March 2019 on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, which he did not oppose.
They went their separate ways eight months after James moved to Cambridge and Beverley felt he was abandoning the family.
The athlete later claimed the ‘complex’ separation was ‘a long time coming’ and was nothing to do with the Boat Race or the 2010 brain injury that almost killed him.
The media personality told the Daily Telegraph at the time: ‘It wasn’t going to university or competing in the Boat Race that ended the marriage. And it wasn’t even the accident, although our marriage was dealt a bad hand with that.
‘As anybody who is married or has been married will know, break-ups are far more complex than anybody else [outside the marriage] really knows.
‘There’s this perception that I’ve left my family to go off to Cambridge, selfishly, but that’s a little exaggerated. And while, yes, it may seem selfish, it also pays the bills.’
Beverley recently admitted she would have ‘resented’ James if she had taken his surname when when they got married in 2002.
The mother-of three said it was ‘really important’ to her not to take his name after first deciding her ‘feminist’ principles when she was studying English and the ‘stigma of language’ at university.
Her happy place: The TV and radio star has been dating eco-property developer James Pritchett, 32, for nearly a year (pictured last year)
In a new podcast with Ben Fogle’s wife Marina, called As Good As It Gets, Beverley, said: ‘I didn’t [change my name]. It was really important to me.
‘I probably cemented the idea [that I was going to stay Turner] when I was doing English at uni and talking about the stigma of language.
‘And over the years, if we raided a country, in terms of colonialism, the first thing we do is try to take someone’s language and disempower them by taking it away.
‘For me, I was always conscious of words and the importance of words and what that means to you.
Sweet: ‘I had such judgment about age-gap relationships before this, but I cannot see any disadvantage to it’, the loved-up star previously shared (pictured last year)
‘I felt like I was a Turner. I am a Turner and I will always be a Turner. I think it was also a feminist thing.
‘I felt like it was in the Victorian era that you should change your name. In fact, when I got married, 20 years ago, James said, ‘I wouldn’t change my name for Bev, so why should she change her name for me?”
The TV and radio star has been dating eco-property developer James Pritchett, 32, for nearly a year.
Beverley previously said of her romance: ‘I had such judgment about age-gap relationships before this.’
The writer added to the Daily Mail: ‘I would look at an older man with a younger woman and roll my eyes, but now I can completely see what they were doing. I cannot see any disadvantage to it.’