Three-time world rowing champion and double Olympic medalist Alex Partridge was banned from driving yesterday after a short night time police chase while over the drink-drive limit.
The six-foot four 35 year-old had just attended a rowing event when he overtook the officers in his black Audi A4 in Hammersmith at 9pm.
He was dragged out of his vehicle, handcuffed and spent the rest of the evening locked-up in police cells.
The former public schoolboy, who has just bought £800,000 Coombe Cottage, Old Bix Road, Lower Essendon, Henley-on-Thames was disqualified for twelve months.
He was also fined £820, with £85 costs and ordered to pay an £82 victim surcharge.
He pleaded guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates Court to driving in Talgarth Road on October 18 with 56 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.
The legal limit is 35.
Partridge won three world championships in Coxless Four’s in 2005, 2006 and 2009 and clinched an Olympic bronze in Beijing in 2008 and silver at London 2012 in the Eight’s.
He also won two other bronzes and a silver at the world championships.
Following his final world title he was named rowing’s ‘Olympic Athlete of the Year’ and is a member of Leander rowing club, one of the oldest in the world, having been founded near Henley-on-Thames in 1818.
Fellow members include multiple Olympic and world rowing champions Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell, plus actor Hugh Laurie.
Prosecutor Miss Katie Bryan told the court: “The officers on patrol were overtaken by a vehicle at high speed and gave chase, using flashing lights and tones, but the driver refused to stop.
“The vehicle did stop at the next traffic light and the driver could not account for why he did not stop, saying he always drove that way.
“He smelled of alcohol,” she added, explaining first-time offender Partridge was arrested after failing a roadside test.
His lawyer Mr. Benjamin Waidhofer said: “There are individuals of good character, there are individuals of positive character and then there are individuals like Mr. Partridge.
“One of the few people who makes a real difference to this country.
“That night he was attending a rowing-related event.
“It can only be described as a gross error of judgement that night that at the conclusion of the event he got into his car and drove.
“There was no swerving and although the police officers say he drove fast he stops at the red light and speaks to the officers.
“He was removed from the vehicle forcefully, handcuffed and placed in the cell for holding.
“This has been a salutary lesson. At the time he was juggling professional commitments.
“He works up and down the country, uses his car for driving and the disqualification effect on him career-wise is yet to be determined.
“It is an early guilty plea, there are a number of individuals that support him. That’s unusual in criminal cases.
“You can see the effect this has had on him and the distress it has caused.
“He continues to be involved in youth development within rowing. Still very much involved in the grass roots of the sport.”
The magistrate told Partridge, who wore a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and red stripes tie: “It’s a serious offence and it does put the public at risk.”
He attended £30,000-a year Monkton Combe, a private boarding school in Bath and attended Oxford Brookes University.
Partridge now works in Reading in the world of financial services as a sales account manager for Invesco Perpetual.