Women’s Varsity Win for CUPLC in 2022

Cambridge 581.38 - Oxford 579.78 Results


This year, for the first time the Powerlifting Varsity was split into two equal teams of men and women, and it was time to show off that these girls can. After the disruptions caused by the pandemic, for much of the Women’s team it was not only their first Varsity, but their first ever official competition. Thanks to a great team of handlers and dev squad coaches, the girls faced the day with grit - at this point special thanks must go to Suzanne Goulder, Lucy Hart and Luke Rogers for their expertise as they supported and managed the team in the run up to the competition and on the day.

After the weigh-in, it was time to rehydrate, fuel up, and get into the competition mindset. The squats were off to a good start, with all of the Cambridge girls in the first flight getting all of their attempts. The heaviest squats from Cambridge’s side came from President Samin (62.85 BW), Women’s Captain Beatrice (61.7 BW) and Treasurer Amy (68.6 BW) who all squatted 127.5kg, missing their third attempts of 132.5 and being beaten for heaviest squat of the day by Oxford’s Isabel Dowling with 132.5kg (66.15 BW). However, despite a few missed second or third attempts in the second flight, Cambridge had snuck into the lead at the end of squats.

Now in the swing of the competition, it was time for the bench. Jane Ambler (73.75 BW) wins the award for heaviest and bendiest bench from Cambridge, managing to press a huge 85kg with a skeleton-defying arch. Only Oxford’s Women’s Captain, Sophie Smith (65.6 BW) managed to out-bench her with 87.5kg. After the bench flights, the tension mounted as we lost our 2-point-lead to find ourselves 7 points behind. However, the team remained focussed and lifted strategically, with the confidence that our side had the stronger deadlifters.

The pressure was on. Every kilo counted. This was not a time to go for risky PB’s, it was time to stick to our strategy of conservative lifting to maximise our totals and hopefully pull ahead of Oxford again. In the first flight the Cambridge girls executed their attempts well, with only one attempt being missed. However, we found that even if our women in the second flight hit all their first attempts, we would still find ourselves 6 GL points (around 30kg on the combined total) behind Oxford. Fortunately, we had more lifters in the second flight than Oxford did so we still had hope that this gap could be closed over the 2nd and 3rd attempts. Yet the drama was not over, as after the 2nd attempts we were still behind with Anna Clay (53.85 BW) at risk of bombing out. Between her steely determination and some technique points from ex-Women’s Captain Lucy, she convincingly pulled her 140kg third attempt, making her Cambridge’s strongest woman of the day with 79.09 GL points (in her first official competition too!). Cambridge was back in the game. It was now up to our final deadlifters, Samin, Lauren, Amy, and Rachel, to make their third attempts and get the win. At this point, Beatrice advised the final lifters to reduce their final deadlift attempts; a risky pull at this stage could result in the trophy just slipping out of Cambridge’s grasp. The girls did exactly as they were told, pulling for the team and the final string of deadlifts was spectacular to watch. Well done to Amy Williams (68.6 BW) and Rachel Knight (68.45 BW) who each deadlifted 160kg to be Cambridge’s biggest deadlifters of the day. After Rachel, the penultimate lifter of the day, got her three white lights, Cambridge knew they had won, even if the final lifter of the day, Sophie did successfully lift her massive 172.5kg final attempt (which she did very impressively). Just 1.6 GL points or around 7.5kg, in the lead, there was no exaggeration when I wrote that every kilo counted. As Sophie made her phenomenal final lift, cheers went round the Cambridge team in support of such impressive strength and in celebration our victory. Not only had a 9th consecutive win for Cambridge been secured, but our mark will be left on the shiny new trophy as the first victors of the Women’s Powerlifting Varsity.

I would like to extend congratulations and thanks to Men’s Captain Raghul Parthipan for achieving a ridiculous 91.04 GL points to make him Cambridge’s strongest man and overall lifter, and for being an inimitable source of knowledge and support to both his (victorious) team and to myself and the women’s team. Huge congratulations to Sophie Smith as strongest female lifter of the day (83.2 GL points) and to Anna Clay as Cambridge’s strongest woman. And finally, a thank you to East Midlands Powerlifting, all the helpers, to Krish, and to our President Samin for making the event so successful.