Athletics Varsity On A Knife-edge: Men Win, Women Lose

RYAN HARPER: Men win 105-99, women lose 102-97 in a nail-bitigly close Varsity Athletics.

On Saturday, Cambridge University Athletic Club sent a 90-strong team to Iffley Road, Oxford, in a bid to repeat the 4-0 Varsity whitewash of 2011.

The day got off to a perfect start. In the Men’s Blue match, Rhys Hodnett won the Hammer Throw with 46.20m, his maiden blues standard, and Christian Roberts triumphed in the opening track race over 400m Hurdles with a 55.37s season’s best. Matthew Houlden won the Long Jump before Onakeno Mario-Ghae produced the performance of the day in the High Jump. Having to equal his personal best of 1.95m to stay in the competition after Oxford’s jumper took the lead, he then nailed 1.98m, 2.01m and finally 2.04m to rapturous applause.

Jonathan Cook cruised to an effortless victory in the 800m, before facing off, two hours later, in the Mile against Oxford’s Shelley and Frith. He faced stiff competition from experienced runners who hadn’t yet raced that day. In completing the double win for Cambridge, Jon added another chapter to the history of epic Mile races at Iffley Road, and now aims for GB selection in the European Championships to be held in Helsinki in June.

Jonathan Cook of Jesus completes a historic 800m-Mile double victory in 1:52.15 / 4:13.09.

As the afternoon progressed, Oxford tried to mount a comeback. Tom Watkins won the 3000m steeple chase with a personal best, and Matt Houlden, with the wind behind him, set his new personal best to win the Triple Jump. Toby Haseler and David Allwood rounded out the field events with wins in the Shot Put and Discus Throw.

The Men’s Blues match, which had remained finely poised throughout the day, finally went the way of Cambridge by 105 points to 99 after a victory in the 4x100m relay. Oxford were favourites in this race, and had the faster runners on paper, but Amin Ahmadnia, Onakeno Mario-Ghae, Matt Houlden and Ross Elsby had worked on their changeovers for over a month, organising extra training sessions to search for those precious tenths of a second. Make no mistake; those extra tenths were what won us the Varsity Match.

Blues 4x100m relay: Changeovers win Championships.

The Women’s Blues Match began with Aussie postgrad Jennifer Lovell, fresh from breaking the CUAC record in the pole vault at BUCS, winning with an outstanding vault of 3.30m. Women’s Captain Rose Penfold led from the front on the track, easing to victory in the 800m. CUAC poster girl Lizzie Thompson had a day to remember winning the Long Jump, Triple Jump and High Jump with new personal bests of 5.08m, 10.67m and 1.55m, as well as coming second in both hurdles races. CUAC’s throws squad leader Helen Broadbridge won the Discus Throw and Hammer Throw comfortably.

 Jennifer Lovell of Jesus clearing 3.30m to take victory in the Women’s Pole Vault.

Despite winning fewer events overall than their Oxford counterparts, the determination and depth of the women’s blues team was evident in their picking up enough 2nd and 3rd place points throughout the day to keep the competition alive. Heading into the final event, the 4x400m relay, the match still hung in the balance. Despite a storming final leg from Helena Wace, the women’s team was beaten on the line by just a quarter of a second, and they lost the overall match 102-97.

Lizzie Thompson of Trinity Hall, who won three events, en route to second place in the 400m Hurdles.

The Men’s Second Team Match was won by Cambridge 109-103, with Felix Schaaf winning the High Jump and Discus Throw. Angus Fitchie won the Javelin Throw with a 48.65m PB – a mark that would’ve been good enough for second place in the Blues match. The Women’s Second Team was beaten 115-85, with Sarah Williams setting a new match record in the Pole Vault with 2.50m.

  • That is all

    I appreciate Lizzie very much

    • Concurrer

      Don't we all?

  • MacFarlane

    ive got a song which i hope will inspire some of our athletes into reaching the olympics! check it out!

  • Tight delight

    Lizzie is hot, but Cookie's white shorts are hotter 😉

  • CasparEliot

    I like how this article doesn't mention the unsporting behaviour of ryan and the other captains in parading themselves in the 4x400m team….

    • A Bad Loser

      says what?

      • stop harping on

        They weren’t bad losers, cuac (or their captains) were bad winners

    • Coach Bob

      Fair point

    • Hawks Member

      Typical Harps, crumbling in the discus and hogging all the glory in the end…

    • AchillesAthlete

      Agreed. Farcical from Cambridge i was and kind of still am ashamed to be associated with the Light Blues after that. Such misplaced arrogance is not what Varsity is about.

    • medal hog

      harps was just looking to bag himself another varsity medal to add to his two from the discus in the last two years…oh wait…

      • A..

        Now now, he might have lost the discus last year to someone who had never actually thrown a discus prior to Varsity but he looked great doing it. That's the main thing.

        • Jerome E

          Insert Harper's face on John Terry's body.

  • umm

    how does Lizzie do the hurdles with only one leg?

  • T Ports

    Nice choice of photos Ryan…

  • Felix

    Warm congratulations to myself.

  • Ruth Graham

    The failure of the women demonstrates the gross misogyny and patriarchal structure of this university.

    • Judge

      luckily they were allowed to compete in the 'traditional' male varsity match!

    • CUAC Men

      No it just shows that the Oxford women are better (and fitter)

      • obvious

        Classic Gatehouse – Go home!

  • naughty lucerrrrrrh

    men win, women lose hahah just like it should be

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