It all began in the morning of the 8th of March, at Iffley Road Sports Centre. Oxford’s trampolinists were thankful for the 2 hour later start compared to Sunday training (and other competitions).
Cambridge came with a strong team, comprising two BUCS finalists in the two highest BUCS categories, and bouncers of high standard even in their C team. It was therefore not surprising that the Light Blues dominated the lowest category at Varsity, taking the first three places and having a decent head start in the team match. Still, Oxford’s C team gymnasts showed neat routines, improving their results from BUCS and setting new personal bests. In the B team, Oxford was unusually strong, with BUCS 2 finalist Emily Annand and gymnast/tumbler Michelle Brummer, who took the first and second place in the middle category.
Before the last eight bouncers were due to compete, Cambridge was leading by four points. Although this lead was vast, with a very strong A team, the first victory for Oxford after seven years, seemed within our grasp. Would anyone’s nerves fail? Phoebe Barnett started the last round with a solid set routine, improving on her last year’s winning score (24.4 points). Alistair Rice followed on, pushing his score from last year as well (23.4 points). Yet Cambridge’s Lucas Lin and Rosalind Brown showed equally good routines.
Next it was time for Oxford’s Joker Kristof Willerton, a world-class tumbler to step up, and he did not disappoint, showing the best set routine of the day with 25.9 points, still closely followed by BUCS 1 finalist Ryan Hadlow, who scored 25.3 points. The A teams were completed by David Hewlett (Cambridge) and Richard Healicon (Oxford), the latter presenting a better form than last year and matching Phoebe’s score of 24.4.
The last eight routines of the day were certainly the highlight of the match. With no upper limit on the routine difficulty, all bouncers were free to impress judges, teammates and spectators with their skills. Phoebe Barnett set a decent mark with 29.3 points and a difficulty of 7.0, followed by Alistair Rice (26.1 points, 5.4 difficulty), who showed his first double back somersault in a competition. Kristof Willerton had a reputation to lose – and kept his nerves. Presenting the most difficult routine of the day (9.9 points) and executing it very neatly (33.0 points), he took the well-deserved first place with a total score of 58.9. Richard Healicon did it in style as well, showing a routine tariffed at 9.2, scoring 32.1 points in the voluntary routine. Richard came third with a total score of 56.5, matching the score of the second, Ryan Hadlow, but could not beat him on execution. Phoebe Barnett managed to retain fourth place, meaning that overall 3 of the top 4 bouncers wore dark blue colours and Oxford had clearly taken the victory in the highest category. With their results from BUCS and their placement in Varsity, Phoebe Barnett and Emily Annand also qualified for a Blue Award – congratulations!
But would these amazing performances be enough to take the cup back to Oxford again? The result would be close, that was for sure. In the end it was a 2.0 point margin that made the difference – with total team scores of 453.7 to 451.7, this was just as much as a pointed toe. And we made it! The Dark Blues won back the Varsity Cup for the first time in seven years with a really impressive team effort.
Thank you and congratulations to all competitors and officials from Oxford and Cambridge for a really great competition!