Road cyclist and Trinity Hall graduate Emma PooleyJames Boyes

Cambridge University’s impact across the world is far from confined to its academic output. Alumni from across all 31 colleges have left important legacies which have shaped the worlds of literature, music, drama and science. 

And throughout August, former Cantabrigians are looking to leave their mark on the world's greatest sporting competition – Varsity has combed through all the 206 competing teams to find those Light Blues searching for Olympic glory.


It comes as no surprise that Cambridge University’s trademark sport is sending five representatives over to Brazil: four alumni and a soon-to-be student. Competitive rowing has been at the heart of the University's sporting life since the early 18th Century: the first Boat Race against Oxford in 1828 is credited as being the first ever competitive rowing race. And Cambridge rowers have traditionally found success at the Olympics: Trinity College alone has produced 11 rowing gold medallists over the years.

  • Tom Ransley (2008)

Nation: Great Britain

College: Hughes Hall

Subject: History with Management

Event: Men’s Eight

Previous Honours: World Champion in 2013 and 2014; 2012 Olympic Bronze; Cambridge University Blue

  • George Nash (2008) 

Nation: Great Britain

College: St Catharine’s

Subject: Engineering

Event: Men’s Coxless Four

Previous Honours: World Champion in 2013, 2014 and 2015; 2012 Olympic Bronze; Cambridge University Blue and Boat Club President

  • Mark Aldred (2005)

Nation: Great Britain

College: Downing

Subject: Physics

Event: Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four

Previous Honours: World Champion in 2013 and 2014

  • Claire Lambe (2016)

Nation: Ireland

College: TBC

Subject: Engineering

Event: Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls

Previous Honours: 4th in 2016 World Championships

  • Sam Ojserkis (2012)

Nation: United States of America

College: Jesus

Subject: Management

Event: Men’s Eight (Cox)

Previous Honours: 3rd in 2015 Pan American Games

Rugby Sevens

Cambridge University’s rugby team has always been a force to be reckoned with: last year’s Varsity team included Welsh international centre Jamie Roberts and since 2009, six former Light Blues have gone on to secure professional contracts. So with Rio 2016 representing rugby’s Olympic debut via the smaller form of the game, three Cambridge alumni have the chance to show why recent losses to Oxford in Varsity matches are just a mere blip in the road.

  • Juliano Fiori (2007)

Nation: Brazil

College: Jesus

Subject: International Relations

Previous Honours: 15th in World Series in 2012, 2014 and 2015; Cambridge Blue

  • Ben Ryan (1995)

Nation: Fiji (Coach)

College: Homerton

Subject: Education

Previous Honours: World Series Champion in 2014 and 2015; Cambridge Blue

  • Simon Amor (2000)

Nation: Great Britain (Coach)

College: St Edmund’s

Subject: SPS with Management

Previous Honours: 4th in World Series in 2013 and 2014; Cambridge Blue

Road Cycling

While cycling around the city dodging tourists is part of everyday life for many Cambridge students, competitive cycling is one of the University’s smaller sports clubs, with the awarding of a Blue or a Half-Blue depending on the form of cycling participated in. Indeed, Emma Pooley – the only former Cantabrigian at Rio seeking Olympic glory on the bike – was not even awarded a cycling Blue while studying at Trinity Hall; instead, her Blue was awarded for cross-country running and the triathlon.

  • Emma Pooley (2001)

Nation: Great Britain

College: Trinity Hall

Subject: Engineering 

Event: Women’s Road Race and Women’s Time Trial

Previous Honours: World Champion in 2010; 2008 Olympic Silver; Cambridge Blue


Triathlon is a relatively young sport at Cambridge University, with the club originating at the turn of the New Millennium and not becoming officially affiliated until 2013. Nonetheless, the floors of Girton were briefly graced by the feet of Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee – who is looking to defend his Olympic crown in Rio – during his one term studying at the University’s medical faculty.

  • Alistair Brownlee (2005)

Nation: Great Britain             

College: Girton

Subject: Medicine (for one term only)

Previous Honours: World Champion in 2014; 2012 Olympic Gold