After their double victories at Freshers’ Varsity in November, there was a feeling of excitement in the university athletics team as they travelled to London for the annual Indoor Varsity Field events and relays match. The team made an excellent start winning both the men’s and women’s hammer competitions. In the latter, Laura Duke of Newnham broke the individual record with a phenomenal throw of 45.31 in the second round, which also contributed to the team record. Duke had a busy day, also winning the shot, finishing second in the pole vault and long jump, and competing in the discus and 60m Hurdles. Another Newnhamite, Emma Perkins had a successful day winning the high, long and triple jumps respectively and breaking the individual record in the high jump with a leap of 1m69. In the shot, all four of the Cambridge competitors threw further than anyone from Oxford demonstrating the quality in the team. The women showed their strength in the field, winning five out of the eight team events.

On the track, the Cambridge women were even more dominant, losing only one event, the 60m Hurdles. Women’s captain, Kate Laidlow had a superb day, breaking the individual record in the 60m, anchoring the 4x200m team to a convincing victory and running the fastest leg in the women’s 4x400m. The Cambridge ‘B’ team also beat Oxford in the 4x400m demonstrating the depth of the Cambridge women this year. In the middle distance races, the Oxford teams were extremely poor, but even without being pushed the Cambridge women showed their talent, with Rose Penfold and Christie Noble both achieving half Blue standard in the 3x800m. In the 3x1500m the women lapped Oxford three times with Rosemary Pringle breaking five minutes for the first time on the opening leg.

The men’s track team faced much harder competition but still came out on top, winning all but two events. In the 60m the Cambridge men clinched victory with Mark Dyble, Louis Persent and the first Oxford athlete breaking the previous individual record. Dyble had a stunning run in the 4x200m to secure victory by just a few tenths of a second. Persent, a world junior silver medallist, showed his class on the final leg of the 4x400m teasing the Oxford runner by easing round the first lap just ahead before comfortably striding away from him in the last 100m. Rory Graham-Watson also had a tough day running solid legs in the 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m respectively. In the latter of these he ran six seconds quicker than any other competitor in the event. The prize for the most inspirational performance has to go to Eamonn Katter, who pulled out a superb leg in the 4x200m to move Cambridge into pole position, as well as running a strong leg in the 4x400m.

In the field, Oxford also displayed some strong performances as a reminder to Cambridge that they cannot be complacent going into the Varsity Match in May. The Dark Blues had five individual victories in the field compared to Cambridge’s three. Ayo Adeyemi made a huge jump in the men’s triple jump to clinch victory for the youthful Cambridge team, as well as contributing to the team success in the long jump. The pole-vault was the highlight of the men’s field for Cambridge who not only broke the team record, but would have still won without their top scorer counting.

The Cambridge women claimed victory in the match for the first time in five years, but know they will face a much stronger Oxford side in May. At the start of this academic year, Cambridge men’s team was seen as a development squad that would not pose a strong challenge to Oxford, but they are already proving that they have the quality to cause a big upset in May. Travelling to Oxford will bring new challenges, but for now there is great confidence within the team on which they hope to build over the coming weeks.