Sports highlights: Weeks 5 & 6

Thursday 30 May 2024

The following highlights from various sports clubs and teams were compiled from recent reports. If any captains or team members have a result that you'd like to feature in the next round-up, please contact


On 18 May, six athletes from St Catharine's made the journey to Oxford with the University’s athletics club for a brilliant day of competition in the 149th Men's Varsity, 49th Women's Varsity, and 1st Para-Varsity competitions:

  • Jess Poon (a third-year Geography undergraduate) captained the Women's Blues despite not competing due to injury and sadly losing by a narrow margin.
  • Ben Massey (a second-year History & Politics undergraduate) set a personal best in the 400m hurdles and captained the Men's Seconds to a loss by a singular point. 
  • Dr Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik (an MBA student) won the Seconds' discus with a throw of 26.22m and also competed in the Seconds' shotput too. 
  • Cameron Deverill (a first-year Natural Sciences undergraduate) was a vital part of the victorious Men's Blues squad coming second in the 800m after an all-out sprint to the line as well as putting in a massive effort as part of the Blue's 4x400m squad. 
  • Rachel Thompson (a first-year Natural Sciences undergraduate) threw 24.42m in a competitive Javelin line-up in the Women’s Seconds competition
  • Larabella Myers (a Technology Policy MPhil student) competed brilliantly in the Hammer and Discus throw for the Women’s Seconds despite only having started the events two weeks prior. 
Rachel Thompson throwing the javelin at the 2024 Varsity athletics competition
Rachel Thompson
Cameron Deverill running at the 2024 Varsity athletics competition
Cameron Deverill
Hurdler Ben Massey racing in the 2024 Varsity athletics competition
Ben Massey
Larabella Myers' discus throw in the 2024 Varsity athletics competition
Larabella Myers

Later this summer, Ben and other St Catharine’s students are set to take part in the joint Oxford-Cambridge Athletics (also known as the Achilles Club) tour of Japan competing against universities in Tokyo. 

Cambridge University Athletics Club squad for the 2024 Varsity competitions
Cambridge University Athletics Club squad for the 2024 Varsity competitions (credit: Nordin Ćatić)

Ben, who is also Co-President of the St Catharine’s Athletics Club, reflected:

“While Cambridge only returned with the Men's Blues trophy, it was a very narrow match with some excellent races, throws and jumps throughout the day. A special mention to Jess for doing an amazing job managing the Women's teams, overcoming last minute dropouts and injuries in the squads and still fielding an incredibly competitive team – all while being injured herself and preparing for her final-year exams. 

“I'm really proud of everyone that competed on the day – they all put in a massive shift, especially with it being Cameron, Rachel and Larabella's first Varsity. This is a really good start to the athletics season and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone can achieve, especially with our upcoming tour of Japan with the University soon.”

If you're interested in getting involved in athletics, both track and field, or cross-country, either as someone with experience looking to return or a complete beginner looking to try something new, please get in touch with Ben ( or Jess (

The University of Cambridge 2024 Sports Awards

These awards celebrate sporting achievement at Cambridge over the last 12 months, and recognise the achievements and successes of sports clubs, teams and individuals. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 17 June but we are delighted to see St Catharine’s represented among the finalists that have already been announced. Read on to find out the reasons that prompted others to nominate them. 

Unsung Hero finalist: Mercy Akinyele, a third-year Engineering undergraduate

“Mercy has had a huge impact on Cambridge University Ladies Netball Club (CULNC) yet stays extremely modest. She is an incredible netballer, having stepped up to play for teams in higher divisions with brilliant performances, however her contribution to CULNC goes far beyond her sporting talent. 

“Mercy never fails to show up to support any netball team; she is often behind the livestream camera cheering on Cambridge, making sure that as many netball games get streamed to social media as possible, sometimes staying at the USC all day! In doing so, Mercy has single-handedly raised the profile of the sport beyond just the Blues, ensuring that the other three CULNC teams get the recognition and support they deserve. 

“On top of this, Mercy has also previously held roles such as League Secretary where she had a similar impact, running a Men's cuppers competition in addition to the other two tournaments she had to organise. Mercy is focussing on her studies for her 4th year - without her in the club next year, her humble, understated yet extremely impactful contribution to the club will be missed. Mercy is an unsung hero and doesn't even realise how great she is!”

Read our report about Mercy’s contributions as CULNC League Secretary 2022–23.

Sports Club Personality of the Year finalist: Matthew Edge (2018, Natural Sciences; now a Chemistry PhD student)

“Matt Edge has made the Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) a better and more successful Club in his five years (so far) with the Club, binding CUBC's three legacy clubs together. He is now best known for his epic stroking of the winning 2024 Men's Boat Race crew, where he drove himself to collapse in the race, putting his crew in an unassailable position, where they took a Boat Race victory for the Ages. 

“That is only a small part of Matt's contribution to the Club. After two losing lightweight Boat Races, Matt kept his eye on the prize and as President and Stroke broke a three year losing streak in a dominant display on the Tideway in 2022. Moving to the Openweight Squad in 2023, Matt sat at bow in the winning 2023 Men's Blue Boat, following this up with his memorable performance in 2024. 

“Matt's role in the Club does not cease off the water. After serving as Lightweight President, he devoted himself to supporting the binding of the CUBC's squads as OneClub secretary, where he has supported CUBC becoming consistently successful on the water, and supportive and inclusive off it. He is always available to support his fellow athletes, and devotes time to work with CUBC's coaches. 

“He is an inspiring person - and more deserving off this award than he would ever admit.”

Read our report about Matt’s experience of the 2024 Boat Race. 

Mercy Akinyele
Matthew Edge

College Team of the Year finalist: St Catharine’s College Association Football Club (SCCAFC)

 Daniel Sánchez, a third-year Engineering undergraduate and SCCAFC men's captain, reflected:

"The 2023–24 season has been a historic season for Catz sports, and especially for SCCAFC. Our second team has had arguably its most successful season ever, finishing comfortably in mid table in a very strong division 3, and beating Pembroke in a penalty shoutout to win the Shield cup. As for the first team, the start of the season was a struggle: injuries plagued the squad, and after three league losses the team saw itself reliving past memories of a division 2 relegation scrap. However, as soon as the infirmary emptied out, the team started a seven game winning streak, culminating with the first Cuppers win since 2009. What this club has accomplished this year is an incredible feat in SCCAFC history and college football, and I could not be more proud to have been this club’s captain this season."

Read our reports about the first team's Cuppers win and the second team's Shield victory

St Catharine's College men's football team

Team of the Year finalist: Women’s Blues Hockey Club

“This season the Women's Hockey Blues had the most successful season in their history, celebrating four major successes over the year. 

The first of these is remaining undefeated in their Saturday league (East Prem) and earning promotion into the National Conference league for the first time in the club's history. This is the third tier of English Hockey and is a notable step-up in standard from the regional tiers that the team has always competed in previously. Apart from a draw in their very first game of the season, they won every match and finished top of the table with 13 points to spare! 

“Consistently strong performances (again remaining unbeaten) on Wednesdays also led the team to earn promotion into the BUCS Prem league for the first time - the highest league of university hockey. This is a major achievement because they will compete against the first teams from the top hockey universities, playing at the highest level possible on Wednesdays. 

“Thirdly, the team* celebrated a historic 4-0 Varsity win against Oxford. This is the most convincing Cambridge win since the Matches started up 124 years ago, and is the first time Cambridge have had back-to-back wins since 1999. 

“Lastly, the team entered an indoor hockey tournament for the first time, where they also excelled. They won the East league tournament and the North division of Nationals, earning a place in the National Div 2 Finals. 

“Each one of these successes is a remarkable achievement, and the team would have been happy to have achieved any one of them in a season, so to have achieved all four is something quite exceptional. To put it simply, their season could not have gone any better. I believe this makes the Women's Hockey Blues Team a very worthy candidate for the Team of the Year award.”

* With Georgina Turner (a final-year Management Studies and Geography undergraduate) playing as a returning Blue (having been awarded a Full Blue in 2023) and earning a Full Blue for Karen Rodriguez (a final-year Music undergraduate).

Cambridge Women's Blues hockey team for the 2024 Varsity match
Cambridge Women's Blues hockey team for the 2024 Varsity match (credit: Helen Richie)

Team of the Year finalist: Women’s Blues Rugby Union Football Club

“A great first season under new Head Coach Will Cotterill (substantially reduced concussion rate compared to 2022/23, emphasis on strength and conditioning payer dividends). We had 35 players represent the Women’s Blues over the course of the year, demonstrating a real strength in depth. 

“BUCS National Vase semi-final came just 4 days after our Varsity Match win and was a narrow loss. [We were] the only team to beat Brunel (eventual league winners) in our BUCS league. Brunel also only conceded 72 points all year, of which we scored 36! Eventual 2nd place finish in BUCS league (National South). 

“At the same time as our Blues were having success, our W2 came second in their BUCS league and achieved promotion. 

First outright Varsity Match win since 2021*. The 2021/22 VM was a draw, which we retained because we won the previous one.”

* Earning Blues for St Catharine’s students Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik (an MBA student), Alice Yau (a fifth-year medical student) and Alice Middleton (a Population Health Sciences MPhil student).

Read our report about our students who represented the University in rugby union this year.

St Catharine's students who are members of the Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club women's squad

Club of the Year finalist: Boat Club

“CUBC continues to maintain its success as a club throughout the year, headlined by wins in five of the six races against Oxford*. A number of those races were unexpected victories, at least to those outside the Club. Better crew’s outperformed individuals, and Cambridge achieved famous victories. The Women’s Blue Boat defied odds and beat Oxford, coming from a length down to win by clear water. Their commitment to one another, and their team spirit, was a huge part of why they won their race and thoroughly deserving of celebration. 

“The successes started early in the season with wins for the Club against strong opposition from the Australian National Team, the Chinese National Rowing Team, and Oxford Brookes University at the Shanghai International Regatta, and continued to be the case throughout the year. 

“CUBC athletes achieved notable results in the GB Rowing trials including Gus John and Luca Ferraro being ranked as the top U23 pair, and a number of CUBC's triallists will race for GB at this year's U23 World Rowing Championships, hoping to build on the success of those such as Luca, who won Gold at the U23 World Rowing Championships. 

“After the Boat Races, CUBC athletes raced BUCS, taking wins in Open Championship Coxless 4, Women's Championship Lightweight Coxless 4, and Women's Intermediate Lightweight Pair, and medalling in several events including Open Championship Coxed Four and Women’s' Championship Coxless Pair. 

“To cap off a strong year for the Club, Chief Coaches Rob Baker and Patrick Ryan will be coaching at the 2024 Paris Olympics, underlining the strength from top to bottom in the Club.”

* With St Catharine’s students in each of the five winning boats.

Read our report about the St Catharine’s students in this year’s Boat Races.

St Catharine's students who rowed in the 2024 Boat Races