Historic Sporting Highlights

3 minutes 59.4 seconds

Iffley Road was the scene of one of the greatest sporting achievements in the 20th century – the breaking of the four-minute mile. Medical student and physiologist Roger Bannister broke through the ‘cement wall’ on 6 May 1954, completing the mile race in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. In 2004 the Oxford community celebrated the 50th anniversary of his achievement with a re-staging of the original athletics meeting at Iffley Road. 2014 is the 60th anniversary and Sir Roger relived the day in our special video.

Olympic Connections

Our alumni have won 158 Olympic medals on behalf of many nations across the globe.

FA Cup winners

Oxford University won the FA Challenge Cup on 14 March 1874, beating the Royal Engineers 2-0, and were finalists on three other occasions. The football team has had its home ground at Iffley Road since 1899. From 1872 to 1970 more than 40 Oxford players have won full or amateur international caps.

The oldest club in the country

The Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) was founded in 1869, some 15 months before the foundation of the Rugby Union in 1871, and is regarded as one of the oldest clubs in the country. After all, the founder of the sport is said to be William Webb Ellis, a student at Brasenose College. Since its formation OURFC has played a significant role in the development of rugby and the various major changes the game has undergone since its formation 138 years ago.

The Boat Race

Daily fitness and technical training at the Iffley Road facilities is required by those wanting to compete in what is arguably the most famous rowing competition in the world, the 180-year old Boat Race against Cambridge. Many Oxford oarsmen go on to compete internationally: in Sydney four Gold medallists came from Oxford, and at the Athens Games in 2004 Oxford oarsmen brought home two Gold medals and a Silver.

Oxford’s most famous rower is Matthew Pinsent, Gold-medal winner in four consecutive Olympic games. He was President of the Oxford Rowing Club when he studied Geography at St Catherine’s College. He took part in the Boat Race in 1990 and 1991, when Oxford beat Cambridge by substantial distances.

The Oxford-Cambridge boat race started in 1829 when two school friends, Charles Wordsworth at Oxford and Charles Merivale from Cambridge, challenged each other’s universities to a race. Oxford won, and the challenge was repeated the next year. Oxford repeated their triumph in 2008 – and 72 times in between

Oxford Blue

The Varsity tradition was started in 1827 with a two-day cricket match against Cambridge at Lords. Today the Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities is for many clubs the highlight of their sporting year. There are more than 140 different matches taking place and new disciplines are added regularly, the latest including lifesaving and Kendo. Participants in these events may be awarded an Oxford Blue, the highest sporting achievement at the University.

World Records

The first Oxford athlete to become an official world-record holder was C B Fry, who equalled the Long Jump world record in 1893, followed by GRL Anderson (Trinity College), who ran the 440m hurdles in 56.8 seconds in 1910. Many other University Athletic Club members followed, most notably Roger Bannister, who was the first to run a mile in under 4 minutes.

Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club

The club held its first doubles championships in 1879. The first Varsity match was played in 1881 at the Prince’s Club in Knightsbridge, London. Over the years, the Varsity matches have been held at different venues, including Wimbledon.

The Z-A of Oxford Sport

z-a_of_oxford_sport_300 In the run up to London 2012, we wanted to celebrate and appreciate all that comprises sport at Oxford, a complex topic with a huge history and heritage. Fortunately, Balliol alumnus Prof Simon Lee kindly agreed to take on this task, helping you to know your Oxford sport backwards.