Sports Awards 2023 - Team of the Year Shortlist | Sport at Cambridge skip to content

Sports Awards 2023 - Team of the Year Shortlist

Kicking off the shortlists with a big one, the Team of the Year Award celebrates the most successful teams of the year gone by in terms of performance and achievement.   

With so many team successes in the year just gone, including promotions in BUCS leagues and a glittering set of medals from BUCS events, this is an incredibly competitive category. The five shortlistees demonstrated clear objectives, which they not only met, but blew away completely.  

Got your tickets for the big event yet? Reserve them for free, and join us to see who is crowned Team of the Year at the Sports Awards Event on Monday 19th June. 


Here's more about each of our nominees: 

1: Women's Road Cycling Team, Cycling Club 

The CUCC women's road cycling team have had their most successful year by winning the greatest number of BUCS medals since their results record began in 1995. The racing year started with the BUCS hill climb (an all-out time trial effort up a hill). The only CUCC women's individual medal ever in this event was won by Hayley Simmonds in 2015 - (Hayley now races professionally and has the British 10 mile Time Trial (TT) record) - but we secured two more this year (silver - Phoebe Barker and bronze - Sannah Zaman). Phoebe and Sannah also combined to give CUCC their first ever team medal by winning the team event. Our 2nd team (5th - Miranda Clements and 7th - Zoe Burrell) would have won bronze team medals if B teams were allowed to podium.

Next in the BUCS racing calendar is the 3-up team TT (being a purely team event, no individual results are possible). CUCC women's ‘A’ trio (Imogen Grant, Jo Matthews and Phoebe Barker) won gold and CUCC women's 'B' trio (Maddie Angwin, Zoe Burrell and Miranda Clements) won silver medals. The previous best performance by a CUCC women's team was 3rd in 2018. The women's 'A' also combined with the men's 'A' (who finished 4th) to win the overall competition. The third event is the BUCS 25 mile TT which is held in Cambridge. We have had 2 individual women's medals in this event previously (2018 - 3rd and 2015 - 1st) but never a team medal. This year we won an individual bronze (Jo Matthews) and team silver (Jo Matthews and Miranda Clements). Varsity is also incorporated into the BUCS event which Cambridge women won for the first time since 2014! The cumulative time of the three riders was a new Cambridge record (3 hrs 02 mins compared to 3 hrs 07 mins).  

The final event of the racing season is BUCS 10 mile TT at end of April where the women are hoping to pick up another team medal and hopefully individual ones too! The women's 'A' trio also won bronze in the National TTT in May, the best 'non-elite' team.

There have also been record numbers of CUCC female competitors in every BUCS event, highlighting the depth of the club as well as its strength.

In summary: Varsity victory - first time since 2013/14, BUCS team medals (8 golds, 5 silvers), 3 BUCS individual medals (1 silver, 2 bronzes)  


2: Hare and Hounds  

The CUHH team, led by coach Phil O'Dell, have had an outstanding season even by their high standards. In their main event of the year, BUCS Cross Country, both men's and women's teams achieved bronze medals.

Women’s: Niamh Bridson Hubbard, Bea Wood, Phoebe Barker, Nancy Scott // Men’s: Jeremy Dempsey, Luke McCarron, Paul McKinley, Ewan Spencer, Philip Crout.

A huge achievement given both the quality of competition and the challenging travel distance to the event in Swansea!

The CUHH team also celebrated a 5-0 victory at Varsity (M1, W1, M2, W2, M3). This historic result was the first time Cambridge had ever won five out of five since the W2 event was introduced in 1983. In the Women’s Blues race, UCAPP athlete Niamh Bridson Hubbard (Magdalene) secured 1st place, with fellow UCAPP athletes Phoebe Barker, Nancy Scott (Newnham), and Louise Shanahan (Trinity) also finishing in the top five! Over in the Men’s Blues race, UCAPP athlete Jeremy Dempsey (Girton) secured victory, with every team member playing their part in what was the closest margin of victory in the race since 1982.  

Outside of their main events, the team celebrated success elsewhere, including at BUCS Outdoor Athletics Championships, with Angus Harrington dominating the 800m to take the gold, Silver for Jeremy Dempsey in the 1500m, Niamh Bridson Hubbard achieving bronze in the 1500m, and Terry Fawden taking 4th in the steeplechase, recovering brilliantly after a fall, while at the 2023 Athletics Varsity, CUHH runners won in all of the distance events!  


3: Competition Team, Mountaineering Club  

CUMC is continuing to go from strength to strength as a club, especially on the competitive indoor bouldering and lead side. Our competition team has had a phenomenal time with year, dominating the London University Bouldering Event (UK's largest student-run, non-profit bouldering competition), winning the series overall which has been a huge achievement for the club, with members on both the women's and men's podium at each event in the series!  

The competition team also put in a strong performance at BUCS, with 2 finishes within the top 15 for the women and two within the top 25 for the men. We won varsity overall against Oxford which included members of the comp team, as well as being open to all members of the club to take part, fostering an environment of inclusivity and high psyche! The comp team also competed in the inaugural Looker's National Universities Lead and Speed Championships and sped away with an impressive first place!  With climbing establishing its footing as a competitive sport, it's been brilliant to see that reflected in the success of the club and the high level of interest we have coming through, and great that we have now gained full blue status for the women's team this year after getting men's full blues status last year.

The commitment to the team displayed by all comp team members has been exceptional, and our captains Hannah Zia and Matthew Fall have done a truly fantastic job at organising training sessions in Cambridge and London multiple times a week, as well as fostering a psyched and supportive atmosphere within the team. It's been the best year for the comp team yet and it would be wonderful to see this reflected in the awards.   


4: Modern Pentathlon Team, Modern Pentathlon Club  

It is my pleasure to nominate the Modern Pentathlon team for the 2023 Team of the Year award, and here are some reasons why. Starting with the obvious: the Modern Pentathlon Team has achieved historic success at the 2023 Varsity Match. They won all four team matches (Men and Women, Blues and Seconds), with Cambridge athletes taking first individual place in all four, and also earned the most coveted “club-vs-club” trophy. The magnitude of the light blue wave over Tonbridge School (the match venue) cannot be overstated, with strong wins at every step of the competition. The Pentathlon Varsity Match is also famous for its wide collection of silverware (there is an endless collection of silverware for team and individual phases and combinations of sports). In total, out of 23 trophies and medals, 22 came back to Cambridge, a performance unheard of (as far as I’ve been able to find in the archives). Complete domination. As to the 23rd one, it could be argued that without it, Oxford may simply refuse to come back next year… More seriously, this is particularly impressive considering that the Cambridge Team was relatively novice: out of 18 athletes, only 3 had taken part in more than one Varsity Match before this year.

This is a testament to the athletes’ dedication and hard work, but also to the work put in by the club’s committee and coaches to build up an incredibly competitive team in the span of a couple of years.  

Although Modern Pentathlon doesn’t have quite as many competitions throughout the year as some other disciplines, this clean sweep at Varsity shouldn’t make us forget about the very successful BUCS competition, where CUMPC won gold and bronze in the team event, gold in the women’s individual, and bronze in men’s individual. Thanks to its now-widely-recognised welcoming and friendly atmosphere, the club has managed to recruit a record number of new members this year to widen participation, which naturally contributed greatly to this year’s successes. It is therefore not a surprise that an incredible team spirit showed in the time leading up to the competition and during the match.

With such cohesive mind-set, and evenly distributed successes, it would have felt wrong to not nominate the entire Varsity Team as one for this award.  Thanks to the dedication of its successive committees and athletes, Modern Pentathlon has been one of the few sports to have uninterrupted annual Varsity Matches for 66 years despite COVID. I hope you will too fully appreciate the exceptional tour-de-force achieved by this team to not only rebuilt a full Varsity Team post-COVID but also make it one of the most competitive the Varsity Match has seen. I hope I could convey my admiration for what they have achieved and my excitement for what is coming next. Although I may be (slightly) biased, and have no doubt that many other teams would deserve to be recognised, I sincerely believe that the 2023 Modern Pentathlon Team would deserve to be named Team of the Year.  


5: Women’s Blues, Volleyball Club  

2022/2023 was truly a historical season for Women's Blues Volleyball. After the trials, we weren't sure what to expect from the team given that more than 50% of the team were completely new players. However, a few trainings were enough to realise that we have a strong team with great chemistry, and that we might do something special this season.  We started strong in the BUCS Premier South with good performances against the strongest teams in the league and important wins against our immediate rivals for play-offs. In the end, we came 4th, qualifying for the National Finals play-offs. After a nail-biting match against Northumbria, a team with multiple players on volleyball scholarships, we secured a spot in the National Championships Quarterfinals, for the first time since 2014! In the Quarterfinals we faced Durham, the future League champions and Volleyball England Super League champions. We fought bravely, gained valuable experience and became even closer as a team.

Furthermore, we competed in the annual Volleyball England Student Cup, a competition that brings together all university teams across England, regardless of the league they compete in. We qualified for the final tournament after winning four games in a day. We came to the final tournament in Norwich motivated to show our best volleyball. We came first in our group on the first day, winning all three matches. On the second day, we reached the Finals where we faced UCL in a big arena in front of a full house and remote spectators, as the match was streamed on Volleyball England's official YouTube channel. We came short by a small margin, but we left proud with a silver medal.

On the way to the podium, in the semi-finals, we beat our long-time rivals, Oxford, which set the stage for the big home Varsity match. There, in front of our home crowd, we once again beat Oxford to end this truly remarkable season. However, all of these achievements wouldn't have been possible without incredible individual dedication, ambition and sacrifice, but most of all team work.  There was no individuality in this team, as above all, we played for each other.

This is what led to the great achievements of this team, and most of all memories from this season that we will cherish and remember our University days by.