Saturday 21st October saw the occurrence of the 157th Oxford University Sports (Athletics Cuppers), the first chance for the freshers to set a standard for the coming season. Despite Storm Brian battering Iffley Road, bringing with it dismal conditions, there were many promising performances, and the focus now shifts towards the Freshers’ Varsity Match at Wilberforce Road, Cambridge on 5th November.
The day started strongly with returning athlete Jenny Richards (St Cross) throwing a PB in the discus and hitting the half blue standard in the process, an excellent opener to the year. This was followed by a good win in the long jump by Henry Rees (Teddy Hall) in his first competition.
The horizontal rain and heavy gales meant turnout was lower than had been hoped, with some events regrettably dropped from the schedule as a result. However, this was not the case in the sprints, with both the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m well-attended and fiercely competed. Notable performances included fresher Julian Manieson’s (St Peter’s) victory in the men’s 100m, despite a strong headwind, and women’s captain Emma Roberts’ (Queens) double victory in the women’s 100m and 200m, although she was pushed by Shakira Mahadeva (Queens) in the 100m, with only 0.3 seconds separating the two.
The highest quality event of the day was the shot put, with both Davy Lalor (St Cross) and Lief van Grinsven (Wycliffe Hall) hitting the half blue standards on the men’s side and Katrina Kelly (Magdalen) achieving the same for the women. With fiery-haired, man-mountain Davy launching his shot slightly shy of the blues distance, things are looking very positive for 5th November.
St Catz came away as the ultimate victors despite only placing 1st in one event, just going to show that Cuppers glory is as much about participation as it is performance. Thanks go to the officials for ensuring the day ran smoothly. Fresh from the World Championships over the summer, they were well-prepared for the crushing pressure of Cuppers. The pressure now shifts to the new athletes as OUAC look to begin the defence of ‘La Decima’ in two weeks’ time, on enemy turf in Cambridge.