The Best Of The Best: Hawks and Ospreys Awards 2013

With the Hawks and Ospreys announcing their awards for the year, CHRIS McKEON looks at the winners and those who didn’t quite make it.

CUAFC cubc CUPLC CUWLC george nash hawks' club laura plant ospreys Powerlifting Rick Totten Varsity

It’s awards season in Cambridge sport, the votes are in and the results are as follows.

Laura Plant was named Osprey of the Year two weeks ago, the football team scooped the Hawks’ Team of the Year award and George Nash and his Olympic bronze medal won Hawk of the Year.

It’s hard to argue with this sort of thing

No surprises there. Listing even the most recent of Plant’s achievements would take this whole column, the football team beat the other place at Crystal Palace and then pre-empted that team’s achievement by getting promoted to University football’s top tier.

George Nash’s nomination, at two paragraphs long, was a whole two paragraphs longer than it needed to be to convey the message ‘Olympic bronze medallist’.

But Hawks President Ilia Cherezov, while praising the achievements of the winners, has also stressed the successes of those who didn’t quite make it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the undercard.

Team of the Year

Fencing and Basketball could probably feel aggrieved that they didn’t win. Fencing haven’t lost since December 2011, the end of a season which their captain described, in an oddly legalistic nomination form, as a ‘nadir’ despite the fact they made the BUCS quarter-finals. High standards there.

Basketball overturned an 8-year varsity losing streak and emulated the footballers in winning a league they had just been promoted to, but with two former top American college players, a Croatian pro and an ex-England under-18s player, you might expect them to do that.

Atheltics, Tennis and the Rifle Association all continued long unbeaten records in their respective Varsity matches, an excellent achievement in itself, but the dark horse of this category was Powerlifting. Yes, there’s a Varsity Match in lifting heavy objects.

And it looks desperately uncomfortable

They’re clearly freaks, some shifting over three times their own bodyweights, but they’re extraordinarily successful freaks, breaking records at every level. It’s been an outstanding year for them, but they might have suffered in their nomination by the fact that nobody knows what the hell a ‘wilks point’ is.

Osprey of the Year

Laura Plant – Osprey of the Year in action

Two other nominations here, Henny Dillon of the Modern Pentathlon and Swimming Clubs and Emma Byatt of the, deep breath now, Fencing, Modern Pentathlon, Hockey, Lacrosse, Cycling and Squash Clubs.

You can’t fault the commitment of either of these women (though maybe Byatt is not entirely committed to her degree, with that number of sports), but neither could muster the sheer international achievement of Plant, whose “mental capacity and magnetism” in particular were praised by new Ospreys President Erin Walters.

Hawk of the Year

This was just about the least exciting of all the awards, given the credentials of the man who won it, but the other nominees have all been praised for their dedication and ability – though every Blues sportsman possesses these qualities, making it achievement that counts.

In another year, Rick Totten’s Varsity Match hat-trick would probably have been enough to see the talismanic footballer take the prize. His captain, Ross Broadway, says his name will be etched in Cambridge sporting legend, and it should be, but sadly it won’t be on the Hawks’ honours board.

Rick Totten: Cambridge Legend

The other two nominees, Jon Cook and Alex Young, were long-distance runners with Young also a triathlete and a modern pentathlete.

March saw Cook become one of Europe’s leading distance runners and he has represented England, while Young seems to have dominated just about every sport he’s tried while also fulfilling his commitments to being ‘a lad’.

Not enough after an Olympic year, maybe, but despite minimal funding and non-existent support from the University, and suggestions that maybe Varsity Matches aren’t all that high quality in the grand scheme of things, these awards show we do turn out some pretty impressive athletes.

Now, if only we had a bit of help from our University…