On Saturday June 9, the University of Birmingham welcomed back over 250 of its graduates to participate in the 11th annual Alumni Sports Day.
Alumni from 15 different clubs joined up with their old team mates to help reignite the memories of their sporting experience at university and compete against the sports teams they were once part of.
Over 650 people, 200 more than in 2011, took part in the day to help make it a special occasion, not only for those returning to the university, but also for the students who were reunited with former team mates.
One of the first events of the day to get underway was badminton, where students and alumni were treated to a Round Robin competition, eventually won by the team consisting of Richard Doyle, James Taylor, Will Simpson and Luke Lim.
Badminton head coach Lorraine Cole was delighted to see alumni return to the university and link up with those still studying: “For alumni to come and play with current students, it helps them to keep in contact with the university in a social context, and with those that have had a similar university experience to them.”
Undoubtedly the most competitive game of the afternoon was seen over at the Metchley pitches, the current Men’s Rugby Union team faced up to their alumni counterparts. Despite their obvious lack of physical fitness, the alumni team stormed into an early lead with tries from John Taylor and Pete Turner. The alumni were soon pegged back as first Ian Knott and then George Symonds both demonstrated a fantastic turn of pace to level the scores. After more tries were scored through leaky defences, the score remained deadlocked going into the final moments. With only seconds left, alumnus Luke Quincy-Jones broke through the student teams back line to hand the alumni team a priceless victory.
Following the match Materials Engineering graduate Anthony Rees revealed his side’s motivation for the win: “Tom Plummer, who was involved in a car accident earlier this year, came back from the brink of death to inspire us all to a dramatic victory.”
There were also wins for alumni teams in the basketball, hockey and football as the past students looked to be enjoying themselves back at their old stomping ground.
Even though Alumni Sports Day is in its 11th year, the lifesaving and triathlon teams were taking part in the event for the very first time. The inaugural BRAT vs student aquathon competition kicked off, comprising of a 400m swim and 5km run. The race was won by an alumni team, who snuck in a ringer to their side, four-time Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington.
Chrissie is one of the universities most decorated sporting alumni, having graduated from her Geography course at Birmingham in 1998, she believes that the experiences she had at the University have helped her on the way to becoming a global star.
“I love coming back here. This university means so much for me, it gave me independence and confidence, as well as acting as an amazing springboard to go on to better things. Birmingham holds such wonderful memories for me socially and emotionally, so I think it’s an amazing institution.”
In 2010 she was given an honorary doctorate from Birmingham as a tribute to her work in both her passions: sport and international development, and said she was “honoured to get it from the university. It was amazing to be recognized by the university that I attended.”
Following the competition Chrissie, who holds the world record for the fastest Ironman course completion, promoted her new book and held an impromptu book signing, much to the delight of the race competitors.
The day saw a number of tense finishes as the alumni tried to overcome their student rivals, but none were closer than in the Munrow Sports Centre pool, as the alumni swimming team defeated the current students by just a single point.
Birmingham’s swimming coach Gary Humpage, though, was surprisingly upbeat after seeing the alumni team defeat his team of present-day competitors. He said: “I’m delighted the alumni won as they’ve come to race and have a really enjoyable day. Alumni day is a fantastic event which helps to round of the year for our team. It helps us remember the past and carry on what the graduates have done, which is important.”
The day enables Birmingham graduates the chance to come back onto campus and take part in their university sports competitively again. The woman’s rugby union team took a more laid back approach to proceedings than others. Alongside a short rugby match, the team set up a ‘mini-olympics’ style tournament, with competitors taking part in events such as the long jump, sprints and 3-legged races.
Winner of the highly competitive egg and spoon race, third year Biology student Alicia Moralee, said: “We always make it into a fun sports day rather than a rugby focused one. The atmosphere is great and there is a massive sense of pride for the University. It just shows how much sport brings people together.”
Overall, 200 medals were given out to deserving alumni champions on this special day.
One happy korfball club alumni, Ben Whitelaw, who graduated in 2010 with a BA in English summed up his day: “It’s great to see some of the people I played with during my three years at university, and brilliant to see the club in good health. The Alumni sports day is the perfect opportunity to catch up with those you’ve lost touch with and generally have a laugh.”
The success of this year’s alumni sports day means that the event will be back again next summer. If you were a member of a university’s sports club or love all things sport, keep in touch with University of Birmingham Sport alumni via facebook.