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Sporting successes

Men’s sport is thriving at Pembroke.

This term has seen significant successes for several of Pembroke’s sportsmen. Here, a few of them describe the highs and lows.

Mark Nelson (2012), member of the Pembroke Athletics & Cross Country Society

Not only did he win the Pembroke Mile for the third time running this year, but Mark was also part of the College team that competed in the University’s recent cross country cuppers race. He says:

Athletics‘I’m pleased to announce that Pembroke won this year’s cuppers, taking a narrow victory over a numerically-superior Robinson College team. Pembroke was led by Lewis Lloyd (2012), who had been ill and unable to train well, which makes his race all the more impressive and brave. Rich Ollington (2012) had the race of his life, storming to the front of the race on the first lap of the course and holding on gamely to finish sixth. I also had a very good race and, though I was unable to hold on to my Pembroke Mile arch-rival Mr Ollington, it was enough to pull off the victory for the College.’

 Archie Wood (2011), rower with the Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club

Archie talks about the realities of rowing and GB trials:

Archie‘I’m currently rowing with the Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club, which takes about 20 hours each week. When you factor in cycling to and from the boathouse, showering, and eating lots, rowing takes closer to 30 hours. We do weights sessions, ergs and circuits and we get out on the water about 7 times a week. Outings are usually at around 6.30am. We are allowed to get on the water 15 minutes before any other boats, so we try to get as far down the river as possible. I normally get back into College in time for breakfast although at weekends I often go back to bed! For me, the challenge is fitting in academic work, rowing, my role as JP Vice President and applying for jobs for next year.

‘I really enjoy rowing. I think you have to if you are going to invest the time and the money. They estimate that the cost of joining the Lightweights Boat is £1,500 per athlete and we bear that cost ourselves. There are some funds available to help you to compete at a university level, but you can still expect to have an expensive year. Rowing for the University is also an opportunity to take your athletic goals to the next level. I’m certainly fitter than I have ever been, my technique is coming on leaps and bounds, and I’m performing better in both measurable and immeasurable ways. Everything is working towards our big race at the Henley Boat Races in April, a week before the iconic Oxford and Cambridge University boat race.

‘I recently went to the first round of trials for the GB Lightweight Boat. They are preparing for Rio 2016 for which they need just 6 rowers, so it’s pretty competitive. For other events there are more seats, so overall they’ll be looking for a squad of about 20 rowers. I had a mixed weekend at trials so we’ll have to wait and see.’

Photo credit: Giorgio Divitini for The Cambridge Student

Angus Hopkinson (2012), captain of the Pembroke basketball team

Angus describes the rise and rise of the Pembroke basketball team:

IMG_4688‘The current basketball team was started in 2012. As a new team we had to start in the bottom division, but the team was made up of people who had played before and so we went through our first two terms undefeated and were quickly promoted. We also got to the quarter-finals of cuppers. In 2013 we struggled a bit as we had lots of injured players, including our captain. However, an influx of semester students from America meant that we soon had the best team we’ve ever had. Thanks to them, and to our coach Dr Tim Weil, we once again won our division and even made it to the cuppers final. We had a really difficult run to get there and unfortunately we lost the final game to Wolfson College. However, we’re now in division two and are optimistic we’ll be promoted again by the end of the year.’

Jack Tavener (2007), president of the Cambridge University Pythons American Football Club

Following the Pythons’ Varsity win, Jack talks about raising the profile of an iconic American sport:

DSC_1439‘Having been elected to lead the University’s American Football Club as we enter only our fourth season of competition since reforming, I have faced unique opportunities and challenges in order to help develop our standing in one of the UK’s fastest growing sports. In a short space of time we’ve established a tradition of success and I have been developing a growth strategy that one day will lead to us competing on a similar stage to the major Blues sports. We’re now ranked 13th nationally (out of around 80 teams) and this term we have managed to recruit over 25 new players to our team, taking our roster to over 40 for the first time in our history. And what surprises people most is that the majority of rookies are from the UK (not the US) and had never played the game before.

‘I am proud of what we are achieving, since we receive no sports funding from the University, yet are seeing incredible success through our efforts. We have stepped up our training to maintain a high level of on-field performance and are seeking corporate partners to work with us to build for the future. Our publicity has reached more people than ever, with unprecedented coverage for a single sport in both student and local press. This all climaxed with our Varsity Match. For the first time ever it was held at Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club on Grange Road. Over 500 supporters came through the gates and hundreds of viewers watched our live video stream via Youtube, with live commentary also via CamFM. And, did I mention that we won?

‘Excitingly, there is yet more to come in Lent and Easter, with our local derby game against ARU, the Cambridge Super Bowl Party and the inaugural “flag football” cuppers tournament. We still have some way to go to match the likes of Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Stirling and Durham, where American football is the premier sports programme, but given I am still the only Valencian on the team at present (Robinson, St. Catharine’s and St. John’s have four each!), perhaps I also need to step up efforts to find a successor closer to home.’

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