President's Welcome

natalie groves

Welcome to the Oxford University Athletic Club website.

Welcome to Oxford University Athletic club! I am so excited to be welcoming you to our website and hopefully, club. We are the oldest athletic club in the world, founded in 1860. We support athletes at every event and of every ability. From pole vault to 5k, our club is made up of many squads; ranging from complete beginners to elite level athletes. We cater for everyone here at OUAC, priding ourselves on inclusivity and diversity. We translate our friendly, welcoming club atmosphere into success on a national scale. Below, I will outline what it is like to be a student athlete at the University of Oxford, detailing training, competition, social life, and some of the amazing opportunities you get as an Oxford athlete.

Here at Oxford, we have coaches for every discipline, many of them extremely experienced and boasting rosters of international level athletes (or were once international athletes themselves). Training nights vary for different squads - you can find a timetable for each squad here on the website. We have an ‘Open Sprints’ session on Thursday evening where jumpers and hurdlers alike can join the sprinters and get some good speed work in. Personally, I am a long-sprinter. We have a few sessions a week, both on the track and in the gym. Find out more about all of our coaches here on the website.

In recent years, Oxford University Athletic Club has been extremely competitive on the national stage. Two of our athletes recently won medals at the Senior British Championships. At the two most recent BUCS (British Universities and Colleges), we have won medals in pole vault, javelin, 800m, 1500m, steeple chase and 4x400m relays. Our relay medals really highlight the incredible amount of depth we have in OUAC. Our relays in general foster such an amazing sense of team spirit across the whole of OUAC, with everyone getting behind our teams, often made up of cross-country runners, sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers alike. However, the main focus of our year, is the Varsity Match against Cambridge, usually held in late May or early June. It goes without saying that we pull out all the stops to win 5-0 against ‘The Tabs,’ and have reaped the rewards of this hard work over the past few years, with many successes. We compete as a team at Varsity, with the "Women’s Blues", women’s seconds known as “Millipedes”, "Men's Blues", and the men's seconds known as “Centipedes”. 2024 Varsity was the first year that we held a "Para-Athletics" match. Each team has two athletes competing per event. It is the biggest day of our year, and always so much fun. It truly is a great day of athletics. This year we won 4-1, but next year we are going to win 5-0!

In my opinion, one of the best things about OUAC is the social life. Our amazing social secretaries, Rose and Hugo, organise lots of fun socials to keep us all busy throughout the year. Every year we have a joint Christmas dinner with Oxford University Cross-Country Club (OUCCC), as well as our OUAC annual dinner in Hilary (second) term. At our annual dinner, we invite along a high profile speaker, with highlights in recent years including Steve Cram and Jenny Meadows. Following Varsity, in Trinity Term, we have a joint formal dinner with Cambridge, where we get to celebrate our victory over some tasty food and drinks! It’s not just dinners though. We have a balanced mix of drinking and non-drinking socials. These include coffee and donuts mornings, punting, nights out or casual pub trips. There is something for everyone, and socials are a great way to get to know people in other squads. I would so recommend coming along if you can make it, as a previous social-sec myself you can always guarantee that I will be there!

Being a member of OUAC provides you with some amazing opportunities to travel. We have an annual training camp to Portugal at the end of March. This is an opportunity to get some excellent training in ahead of the Varsity match, whilst getting to know athletes from other squads across the club, and (hopefully) enjoy some warm weather. We also have opportunities for our athletes to travel to the US as part of our Transatlantic Tour series, due to our relationship with some Ivy League universities. In 2023 some OUAC athletes travelled to the US to compete against Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University. In September 2024 some of our athletes will be flying to Tokyo to compete against Japanese Universities. I am lucky enough to have gone on all three of these trips and I have made memories that will last me a lifetime thanks to OUAC! You can find more information about our international trips on the website.

At Oxford, our athletes have a very high academic workload, so it is important to try and fit your sports in around your studies. The benefit athletics (and sport in general) can have on your mental health and productivity outweigh any time expended on writing essays or completing problem sheets! If you are ever struggling with balancing everything, please reach out to our welfare representatives, Laura and Aditya, who are always more than happy to listen and give advice (this can even be done over a doughnut or hot chocolate). Before I came to Oxford I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to continue athletics at the level I was doing it, however OUAC has made this possible- and has made me a better athlete. The athletics facilities at Oxford are amazing, and will be even better at the start of the 2024 academic year as we will have a newly laid (blue!) track. So come down to Iffley Road to say 'hi' and see our new track!

Hopefully, this has given you some insight into what athletics at Oxford is like. Training in a club with such history, that is still so competitive is a privilege, and I have had so much fun over the past few years. Athletics at Oxford has without a doubt been the best experience of my time here. I really hope that you can have the same experience, and can’t wait to see everyone down at the track over the next year!

Yours in Dark Blue, Natalie Groves
OUAC President 2024-25