“Then he told me what ‘FTT’ meant, and I loved it…”.With those few words, Chris Donachie, Nike’s Teamwear Manager, won over the room of students who had come to see the future of Oxford Sport.
Nike Nike’s reputation and financial backing are impressive, as too was the chance to meet Olympic long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford; but, what really sold the new partnership to a lot of people was the feeling of a shared goal and understanding that Donachie’s words engendered. It quickly became clear during the presentations that Nike, and Kitlocker, had done their homework.
They displayed an understanding of what makes Oxford such a unique environment; of the demands that students face, on top of their sporting commitments; and, perhaps most importantly, of the intense rivalry, and respect, that the Oxbridge Varsity matches entail.
The assembled sportsmen and women in Keble’s O’Reilly Theatre were introduced to the bespoke new website (www.ousportshop.com), which is set to revolutionise kit orders and deliveries for sports clubs across the university, amidst mannequins sporting the latest and greatest Oxford stash. The big draw for many people though was the Q&A session with Greg Rutherford, one of the stars of Team GB’s ‘Super Saturday’.
Laughs aplenty filled the session, as he tackled questions ranging from whether anyone will beat Mike Powell’s long standing world record of 8.95m, to how he celebrated after winning gold, and what it was like being a ginger Olympic champion. Moreover, he seemed to genuinely enjoy himself, mentioning how friendly everyone was and what a beautiful city Oxford is. After prising Greg away from people eager to get their photo taken, I was able to get the following short interview…
If you hadn’t become a professional athlete, what would you have done instead?
Ultimately, at the age of 16, I had this desire that I was going to become an athlete of some sort. So I knew, for me, my future was in sport. If I hadn’t become a sportsman though, I definitely would have gone to university and tried to get a history degree somewhere as that was what I really enjoyed at school. I loved it then and still do today, but luckily found that I could have a future in sport, which is great.
What advice would you have for student athletes who perhaps watched this year’s Olympics and now dream of making Rio 2016?
Back in 2005 when we got the bid, I had just turned 18 and had my breakthrough year. I had never won an English Schools medal, but that year I went from being one of the guys who made the final to the British Junior record holder. You have to give it everything and stick with it until you get to a point where your dream is physically impossible, you never really know what can happen in the future and it can change so quickly, so you have to be persistent and determined. Obviously you need to enjoy what you’re doing as well, throughout my career the times that I have enjoyed what I’m doing more, I have performed better.
What’s next then? What does the future hold?
I’m a long jumper first and foremost, and that’s never going to change until I retire, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I want to win more titles. I want to get the big four – World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth gold medals, I want to jump into the World top 10 list of all-time. So for me, there are huge goals still out there; just because I’ve won an Olympic title doesn’t mean that my desire has changed, there is plenty more that I want to achieve.
The interview was a real personal highlight and hopefully he saw the funny side of me proposing a future cameo appearance on ‘How I Met Your Mother’. The most important thing though, was that representatives from college sports as well as Blues sports teams were able to enjoy the launch – a testament to founder Bill Bowerman’s historic mantra that ‘if you have a body, you are an athlete’.
The new kit deal and website includes all sports and colleges, not just Blues teams, so that every student athlete can enjoy wearing the best products to both optimise their performance, whatever level that may be, and look the part when walking along High Street.
That the Nike/Kitlocker team recognise the importance of college sport evinces the research that they have done and will surely help to ingratiate them with the student sporting population. Unfortunately, with other universities offering sports scholarships to promising athletes, the days of Oxford being the number one choice for sporting talent were on the decline.
However, thanks to this new partnership and the rejuvenation of Oxford Sport, the university can now, once again, boast a sporting set-up equal to that of its academic prowess