Varsity 2005


Cambridge scored a moral victory in the Varsity match, exhibiting excellent sportsmanship and claiming the best-lifter spot. Unfortunately, however, Oxford had the edge on points. Cambridge - 1063; Oxford - 1182. Toby Levers pulled an impressive 305kg deadlift to finish the competition and claim the top position. Rob Cork also did well, coming fourth overall. The day was extremely enjoyable, and the Cambridge lifters were admirably entertained by the Oxford pre-lift rituals of slapping and shouting. What the Oxford team lacked in polysyllabic speech patterns and etiquette they made up for with a spirited performance and a large entourage of attractive groupies. It was an excellent day all round.

On Saturday 12th March, Fenner's Gym played host to the 2005 varsity Powerlifting match. For anyone unfamiliar with the sport, competitors each perform three lifts, with a total of three attempts at each; the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Their best lifts from each event are added together to give their total, which is then modified according to their bodyweight using the Wilks formula - in the varsity match, the top 3 individual Wilks scores from each side are added together to give the team totals.

On the day of the competition, Oxford were looking the part in their matching vests and beanies, while the Cambridge team were content to rock up in shorts and t-shirts, and let their lifting do the talking. Oxford clearly felt that they needed moral support, turning up with a mob (twenty-plus) of fans. In contrast, the self-assured Cambridge lifters needed no such ego boost, merely bringing a couple of spectators to offer helpful comments and occasional ridicule. The sheer number of pies that the Oxford squad must have consumed over the past few months left some of the Cambridge lifters literally open-mouthed, as the weigh-in revealed Oxford to be 8kg heavier per man.

Alas, once the lifting began it was clear that not everything was going to go Cambridge's way. While Oxford opened with some impressive squats, many of the Cambridge lifters were left struggling to figure out how to put on their knee wraps and belts. However, seeing a couple of the Oxford lifters fold under weights that were just too heavy for them buoyed the Light Blue spirits, and Cambridge's own Toby Levers thundered home the heaviest squat of the day with 265kg on the bar.

Moving on to the bench press, Oxford began to dominate the competition, with their captain Ben Banks pressing a formidable 200kg - more than twice what some of the lighter Cambridge lifters managed in their attempts. Cambridge's Alex Broadbent put in a solid performance, as the only lifter from either team to get all three lifts in. However, the rest of the team could not match his efforts, with many of the Cambridge lifters only managing to get a single lift out of three attempts. When the subtotals were added up, it was clear that Cambridge were going to have their work cut out in the deadlift if they wanted save the match, as they trailed by over 130 Wilks points.

In the deadlift Toby Levers demolished the competition just as he did in the squat, pulling an enormous 305kg - the single heaviest weight lifted by anyone throughout the competition. Together with Rob Cork's 185kg deadlift at 64.6kg bodyweight, Cambridge had two of the top three deadlifts by Wilks points, but only managed to reduce the deficit to 119 points. With four of the Oxford lifters pulling over 200kg they had done enough to take the match, 1182 to 1063.

Overall, the standard was very high, with both totals far exceeding the winning score from the previous Varsity match, held in 2003. Cambridge can also be encouraged by the fact that most of their top lifters will still be around for the next couple of years, and they will be relishing the opportunity to avenge this year's defeat in the 2006 Varsity match.