Oxford University Athletic Club

FEAR the Dark Blue Uprising 2015

A draw in the indoor athletics championship leaves Oxford searching for victory in the impending Varsity

 

As the curtain-raiser of the season for most, FEAR (Field Events And Relays) serves as the indoor athletics Varsity match and gives an indication as to the balance of power between OUAC and their Cambridge counterparts ahead of the 141st Varsity match in mid-May.

In this format the squad is really tested with all events run as a four-man “relay”. In field events and events on the track where a physical relay format is impractical this constitutes adding distances or times together.

On the women’s side, it was Cambridge that eventually triumphed in both the track and field disciplines, winning 4-2 and 5-3 respectively. Emma Cullen and Alice Kaye spearheaded their Cambridge team, continuing the dominance they enjoyed last season, leading Cambridge to early victories in the 60 and 200 metre races.

Emily Moss, BUCS indoors bronze medalist, then dragged her Dark Blues back into the reckoning with terrific unexpected victories on the last leg of the 800 and 1500 metre races but in the deciding 400 metre race, Kaye proved too strong for Moss, clinching victory for Cambridge.

In the field events, it was Christina Nick who produced the outstanding performance for Oxford, leading her side to individual victories in the shot put and discus, claiming match records in the process, while also competing in the hammer and javelin. This was not enough to overcome Cambridge though, who produced a good all-round performance to take victory in all four jumps (high, long, triple and pole vault) and, ultimately, the match.

The men produced an even tighter contest. However, Oxford were somewhat hindered by a lack of a number of their star performers. Notably club President Adam McBraida was absent. Alongside him Olympic cauldron-lighter Aidan Reynolds was not available. This was further compounded by the unavailability of a number of middle-distance athletes.

With only 6 track events being contested, each one becomes hugely important.

Controversy struck early on in the day. Having taken a convincing team victory in the 60 metre hurdles Oxford victor, James So, was disqualified following a complaint of alleged contact from Cambridge, leaving an incomplete team and a default Cambridge victory.

This left Oxford playing catch-up, and they can be very grateful to French international fresher Louis Rawlings who turned the fixture around. Rawlings stormed past Cambridge in the 800 metre race on the last leg to create a new match record. His heroics continued as he brought the score up to a 3-3 draw, reversing a 10m deficit to the light Blues’ strongest runner, Barney Walker, in the 400 metre race. There was similar individual brilliance from Men’s Captain and BUCS Triple Jump gold medalist Sam Trigg, who led his side by example to convincing wins in both the long and triple jumps. Again though, the overall quality of Cambridge’s squad proved to be crucial, particularly in the throws, where they maintained a 4-4 draw.

As such, the outdoor Varsity match looks set to be a close one. But Oxford can be reasonably confident that they can retain the men’s Blues title when boosted by their returning athletes. Victory in the women’s contest is more clouded in doubt as the Oxford team are faced with the formidable task of overturning last year’s defeat.

Report by Alex Howard
Monday 16th March 2015

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