The recent Athletics Cuppers saw some of Oxford’s finest sharpening up for the season ahead, putting in place final preparations before BUCS and aiming for Varsity selection. There were half blues galore as well as a handful of full blue performances from OUAC members who competed alongside many athletes who turned up to support their college in the hope of gaining a Cuppers title.
The most notable performances of the day were in the women’s throws. Jenny Richards (St Cross) and Abi Jones (Teddy Hall) both threw the blues standards in the hammer (38.00 metres) and javelin (37.00 metres) respectively and Katie Dennison (St Catz) was just 25cm off this standard in the shot put. With at least two half blue standards in each throw, the squad is a force to be reckoned with. Among these performances was that of middle distance runner Alex Shipley (Worcester), whose 33m javelin throw was an impressive season opener. There were also dominant performances by Fergus Imrie (Keble) in the men’s shot put and discus for a further two half blues.
The sprints saw personal bests and strong competition. Julian Manieson (St Peter’s), a rugby player turned OUAC convert, took the win in the men’s 100m, a race with just 0.4s separating the top four. Shakira Mahadeva (Queen’s) earned her first half blue in the 100m, but Katie Hannawin (Worcester) took the win and completed the double with a dominant performance in the 200m. Hatty Wigginton (Brasenose) also ran a huge PB in the 100m ahead of Ellie Thompson (Somerville), and the blues standard looks to be under threat.
In the jumps there was the battle of the Dans, with Dan Gregory (St Catz) beating Dan Lyness (Wadham), the triple jump winner, in the long jump by 9cm. Gregory also took third in the high jump on countback and Ade Okuwoga (Jesus) jumped a half blue of 1.80m for the win. Heidi Hurst (Merton) was also only 10cm off a half blue in the women’s pole vault.
The tightest race of the day, however, came in the form of an inter squad battle, with the 800m boys taking on the 400m squad at their own game. Max Buckley (Magdalen) took a comfortable win to complete the 200m/400m double but a dive for the line by 800m specialist Nathan Mapperley (LMH) gave him second place, despite receiving numerous war wounds to go with it. Nathan was fresh from an 800m race-off with Sam Brown Araújo (University) but in that race, it was Sam who found the final kick in order to pass his opponent on the line. A well-judged race gave Alice Harray (Worcester) the win in the women’s 400m.
Turning to the longer distances it was Natalie Beadle (Teddy Hall) and Thomas Quirk (St Cross) who took the wins in the 5000m. The steeplechase saw a strong debut from Ella Sharrock (Balliol) who unfortunately just missed the half blue standard, which was nevertheless achieved by winner Connie Hurton (Pembroke). The men’s 3000SC saw a strong 1-2 from our blues steeplechasers Jamie Parkinson (Jesus) and Aidan Smith (St John’s) and a final surge on the home straight in the 1500m from Oliver Paulin (Merton) saw him consolidate his spot in the Oxford team for BUCS later in the term.
The real competition, however, was for the overall Cuppers title. Here Worcester followed their dominant performance at Cross Country Cuppers with another win over last year’s champions St Catz. This was a miraculous performance for the team, especially considering they came 22nd in the table in last year’s Cuppers, highlighting the quality of some of their newer members.
However, a great deal of credit must also go to Daniel Gregory of St Catz who competed in a total of five events to take his college to second place. The closest battle of the day was for the third place spot, with just nine points separating third to seventh. It was Keble who managed to win the war and once again, University placed fourth in the rankings.
Credit must also be given to all the officials and OUAC volunteers who helped make the day run smoothly, and without whom, events like this would not be able to take place.