Oxford University has always sent successful athletes to the Olympics and of course this past summer was no exception. Here we take a look at some of the past greats who have sported the dark navy vest and gone on to the games.
Arnold Jackson was the first Olympic Champion to come out of the OUAC ranks. He won the 1500m at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, scraping home by the narrowest of margins in 3:56.8, an Olympic record.
By the 1930s Jack Lovelock had arrived at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand. In 1934 Jackko was elected to President of OUAC and despite suffering reoccurring knee injuries, led the team to a sound victory over Cambridge at the Sports.
Jackko’s greatest run came in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics. Faced with the greatest 1500m field of all time, Lovelock achieved an incredible victory, overcoming his opponents with an unprecedented extended sprint from home with 300 metres to go. His time of 3:47.8 was a world record.
The BBC commentary to the race was provided by Jack’s good friend, Harold Abrahams, winner of the 100 yards in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Abrahams completely lost the plot during the race and the transcription of his garbled words is now legendary.
Chris Chataway’s story is one not of success but of a heartbreaking near miss. In 1952, Chataway went to the Olympics in Helsinki where he faced an exceptional field in the 5000m, including the great legend, Emil Zatopek. I
In the final, Chataway led a group of four round the last lap, but tripped across the curb on entering the back straight. He scrambled to his feet but the three other runners had got away.
Chataway crossed the line in fifth, ten seconds inside his previous best, winded and only semi-conscious. In the same games, the great Roger Bannister (pictured left), OUAC’s most famous alumnus suffered one of few relative career failures finishing fourth in the 1500m.
Finally, having arrived at Oxford in 1994 Steph Cook showed great running potential in her second year, coming second in the Varsity X-Country and winning the 3000m at the Varsity Match. In her final year, Steph made more progress, winning the Varsity X-Country and placing an impressive 7th in the Nationals.
By this time, Steph had developed another love, the modern pentathlon and she was very good at that too. At Sydney, she became OUAC’s first female Olympic champion with her stunning win in the Olympic’s first Modern Pentathlon competition achieved with a storming run in the last event, lifting her from 8th to 1st in the overall standings.
The following year, Steph retired from the sport and returned to medicine after winning 3 golds at the Modern Pentathlon World Champs, in the team, relay and individual events-a great haul for any athlete.