Caroline Hilley was an outstanding performer for Cambridge Chloe Merrell

After a 4-0 defeat last year at Wilberforce Road, the Cambridge University Athletics Club travelled to Iffley Road, Oxford, hoping to avenge that emphatic loss.

The Varsity competition was organised into four categories: Women’s Blues, Men’s Blues, Women’s seconds (Alligators v Millipedes), and Men’s seconds (Alverstones v Centipedes). Within these categories each team enters two athletes, totaling four athletes competing in each event.  Five points were awarded to the winner, three to second place, two to third place and one to fourth place, so every athlete’s performance contributed to the overall score.

From the outset, it became quite clear that the final score would be close. As the results slowly trickled in, it was announced that Cambridge led the meet in each category, but only by the smallest of margins.

The tables turned when the final results from the relays arrived, and the Dark Blues were announced as victorious in each category. Oxford Men’s Blues won 118-94; the Centipedes beat the Alverstones 116-95, the Women’s Darks Blues won 118-93, and the Oxford Millipedes took the closest win of they with a score of 112-100.  Revenge was not to be had on this occasion.

As the closeness of the scores indicated, each meet was decided by adverse results in one or two events. Indeed, the women’s Blues team matched Oxford in event wins but lacked the overall consistency across all the events to convert this achievement into triumph. 

On a day that decidedly went to OUAC, individual performances from the Light Blue camp came as rays of sunshine on the darkest of days. The Cambridge sprint division, coached by Hayley Ginn, had the best outing of all the athletic disciplines but it was Kaesi Opara of Fitzwilliam College who dominated the day. Opara won both the 100m (10.78 PB), and the 200m (21.90) smashing the Blues Standard in both events. He also secured victory for the Men’s 4 x 100m relay team, overtaking Oxford in the last 10 metres.

Still on track but this time with the additional challenge of hurdles, Queens’ College athlete Caroline Hilley had a spectacular day. Hilley won in all three hurdles events with two PBs in the 200mh and the 100mh, and competed in the 4 x 400m relay.  An outstanding athlete who was leagues ahead of her competition in each hurdles race, Hilley was recognized in the award ceremony following the event for her contribution to Varsity athletics.

Revenge was not to be had on this occasion

Last but by no means least, fresher Mary Adeniji from Newnham College decisively made her mark on her Varsity debut, achieving the Blues standard in both the Long Jump (5.47) and Triple Jump (11.63). There is undoubtedly much still in store for this young athlete, who also played her part in the 4 x 100m relay to help the Women’s Blues to secure victory in the event.

The Women's Blues and the Alligators had close matches against OxfordChloe Merrell

Contemplating the day’s event, there was much pride in CUAC’s President Daisy Irving-Hyman words.

“Although the 4-0 loss to Oxford was of course disappointing, there is no reason for our athletes to be disappointed in themselves,” she said. “The score can make it easy to forget the immense effort put in by CUAC throughout the year, and on the day.”

Irving-Hyman – who will hand the role of her presidency over in the next two weeks – reflected on what the occasion meant for her and CUAC more broadly: “the day was a very emotional one, for me, as I was moved by the spirit of our athletes…it felt that although we had ‘lost’ in terms of points, we hadn’t lost in terms of spirit, and I am sure that the Varsity buzz has left our athletes hungry for more.”

Irving-Hyman’s words has better ring true, as the athletics season is by no means over. On June 30th, CUAC will join forces with their rivals OUAC to compete against the allied forces of University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University at Iffley Road, Oxford.


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