Oxford’s strongest: meet the Powerlifting Varsity team

In Sports Teams, Varsity, Varsity by Fergus Imrie0 Comments

On Sunday 12th February, Oxford and Cambridge’s strongest will compete in the squat, bench press and deadlift at Elite Bodyworks in Basingstoke. For the first time in OUPLC’s history, the squad has an equal number of men and women making up the 16-strong team. Can they avenge last year’s Varsity defeat? Do you think you can lift more than them? Tune into the live stream from 1pm on Sunday 12th February to find out. Without further ado, let’s meet the team…

Aron Atilla Hegedus

Age: 21
Degree: Maths and Stats 3rd year
College: Christ Church
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: Progress and people shouting at me when I lift
Fun Fact: Can solve a Rubiks cube sub 20s

Elis Harrington-Dampier

Women’s Captain
Age: 20
Degree: French and German 2nd year
College: Jesus College
Favourite Lift: Bench press (it changes too often!)
Motivation: The prospect of one day being in a ‘natty or nah’ debate.
Favourite Quote: Araf deg mae mynd ymhell (Go slowly but go far)
Fun Fact: I can quote Pulp Fiction word for word


Brandon McDonald

Novice Captain
Age: 36 (That’s right)
Degree: Archaeology DPhil 1st year
College: Lincoln
Favourite Lift: Bench
Motivation: Listening to Hector brag
Favourite Quote: “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance” – HST
Fun Fact: I used to write screenplays for fun

Claire Sear

Age: 26
Degree: Chemistry DPhil 3rd year
College: Lady Margaret Hall
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: Destroying Tabs
Favourite Quote: You get love for it, you get hate for it, you get nothing if you wait for it.
Fun Fact: I have seen Wicked the Musical >50 times.

Hector van Smirren

Age: 21
Degree: Engineering 3rd year
College: St Edmund Hall
Favourite Lift: Hip thrust #thethrustisamust
Motivation: Caffeine
Favourite Quote: “Fantastic” – Scott Manifold
Fun Fact: I wear the same size knee sleeve as Ray Williams


Zoë Clark

Social Sec
Age: 22
Degree: Engineering DPhil 1st year
College: Lincoln
Favourite Lift: Whichever form of Bench will let me get to 100kg first (excited to try equipped after varsity).
Motivation: My overly competitive nature, and everyone at OUPLC.
Favourite Quote: “That’s a good look you know” – Dave
Fun Fact: I failed my driving test 6 times.

Sam White

Age: 19
Degree: Maths and Stats 2nd Year
College: Brasenose
Favourite Lift: Squat
Motivation: My rowing coach calling my legs “physically grotesque”
Favourite Quote: Oh alright, f*** it
Fun Fact: Once hit a car with my head, and the car came off worse

Kai Ma

Age: 26
Degree: Chemistry DPhil 3rd year
College: Brasenose
Favourite Lift: Anything that involves lying down on a bench
Motivation: Cool insta posts and collection of squat shoes
Favourite Quote: “Everything will be fine if you can just CHILL THE F*** OUT” – angry Scott Manifold
Fun Fact: I used to be a competitive WarCraft III player

Joe Mead

Age: 19
Degree: Economics and Management 2nd year
College: Pembroke
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: The unstoppable marching of time
Favourite Quote: Ships are safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for
Fun Fact: I’ve cycled from Land’s End to John O Groats

Tzveti Tzonova

Age: 22
Degree: French and Spanish 4th year
College: Somerville
Favourite Lift: Bench
Motivation: The pathological need to push myself
Favourite Quote: “Fear is the path to the dark side” – Yoda
Fun Fact: I have a tattoo in Elvish that means “hobbit”

Will Pickering

Age: 20
Degree: Engineering 3rd year
College: Oriel
Favourite Lift: Bench press
Motivation: Stash
Favourite Quote: If opportunity doesnt knock, build a door.
Fun Fact: I broke my leg 2 and a half months ago and have only been walking for 3 weeks

Francesca Best

Age: 20
Degree: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 1st year
College: Wadham
Favourite Lift: Squat
Motivation: Lifting heavier than the men in my gym at home
Favourite Quote: “Socks before or after trousers, but never socks before pants” – M. Corrigan
Fun Fact: I actually used to enjoy cardio

Alex Holness-Tofts

Age: 20
Degree: Physics 3rd year
College: Magdalen
Favourite Lift: The press
Motivation: Acquiring thiccness
Favourite Quote: Do the thing and you shall have the power
Fun Fact: I have a clinically obese BMI

Rachel Drummey

Age: 23
Degree: Radiation Biology MSc
College: Somerville
Favourite Lift: Squat
Motivation: Chocolate cake and biscuits😋
Favourite Quote: Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it
Fun Fact: My gainz originated from CrossFit.

David Jia

Age: 27
Degree: Neuroscience DPhil 3rd year
College: Balliol
Favourite Lift: Squat

Niamh Appleby

Age: 34
Degree: Oncology DPhil 1st year
College: Keble
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: The gainz
Favourite Quote: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Fun Fact: Saying “wingardium leviosa” in your head gives you a perfectly timed comp pause bench

Daniel Green

Age: 22
Degree: History DPhil 1st Year
College: Wadham
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: Being as strong as the other Dan Green one day
Favourite Quote: Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!
Fun Fact: I’ve seen the last two seconds of Mass at the Vatican

Eleanor Whitchurch

Age: 21
Degree: French 4th year
College: Balliol
Favourite Lift: Deadlift
Motivation: Feeling my legs slowly solidify
Favourite Quote: “It’s better not to know your strength than to know your weakness” – Big James
Fun Fact: I have shaken the hand of the prince of Belgium

Will Fox

Age: 19
Degree: Chemistry 2nd Year
College: Lincoln
Favourite Lift: Squat
Favourite Quote: “Sometimes nobody shows up and you automatically win.” – Jason Genova

Lily Erskine

Most. Iconic. President.
Age: 21
Degree: Spanish and Portuguese 4th year
College: Hertford
Favourite Lift: Whatever doesn’t hurt
Motivation: CUPLC ghosting my emails
Favourite Quote: Righty tighty, lefty loosey.
Fun Fact: I was an extra on Downton Abbey.

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