I left Southend High School for Boys last year after the best seven years of my life. A lot of those years were spent on cold winter mornings, battling through the mud on the school field trying to win a place in the cross country team, or in the summer hurtling round the track in the hope of a personal best that would put me into contention for the athletics team.
Thankfully, some of my hard work paid off and I made it to being a top runner within the school, enjoying lots of success with my teammates. Now a year on at Oxford University I have managed to avoid the lure of alcohol and suchlike (mostly) and continue competitive running. Fortunately I was good enough to make it into the first team (Blues) for the Oxford vs Cambridge Varsity match, running 1500m. The team was announced in a small conference room with each athlete receiving a letter, some free kit and a congratulatory handshake. It was then I realised how much of a big deal this was for each university, this wasn’t about taking part, this was about winning.
So the match took place at Cambridge on the 21st May. It was the 137th time the two universities had met for this competition and I had to take a step back once again to realise where I was; this fixture dated back to 1864! My race went very well as I came second in an Oxford one two! Sadly, this victory was short lived as the match results were read out: Cambridge had won in fantastic style as they took victory in Men’s and Women’s Blues and Seconds.
However on the 28th June Oxford and Cambridge joined forces (the Achilles team) to face the might of the Harvard and Yale combined team held once again in Cambridge. I won a place in the Achilles team, competing in the Mile. Unfortunately I was outclassed by the Americans and finished fourth out of five. This was also true for most of our athletes and our Achilles team lost out to the Americans. Nevertheless I was so proud to have competed in the oldest international athletics fixture in history, dating back to 1899!An Oxford Blue is not given away easily. Even after having competed as part of the Blues team, you still need to obtain the Blues Standard! I was lucky enough to have just scraped under the standard the year before arriving!
I cannot believe so much happened in just my first year! I have three more years to go and am looking forward to competing for Oxford on many more occasions- hopefully when Oxford and Cambridge visit America in two years’ time for a rematch against Harvard and Yale. Throughout my competition at university I always think back to where it started - On the field and in the classroom at SHSB, taking in the atmosphere and ethos created by everyone there that has led so many to success.