The following is taken from the Autumn 2008 edition of the Hampton Sports Chronicle, edited by Max Ward.
By Andrew Holder-Ross
An Oxford or Cambridge Blue is the highest sporting honour that can be bestowed upon a student at either university. To achieve such an accolade, one must have competed in a Varsity match or race involving the two institutions. Even then, to win such a prestigious prize, the competitor must stand out in their sport.
It goes without saying that being presented with a Blue is both an honour and an acknowledgement of remarkable skill and dedication. Perhaps then, it comes as a pleasant surprise that last year, no fewer than three Old Hamptonians were presented with this accolade: Robert Blythe for tennis, Peter Marsland for rowing and Akbar Ansari for cricket.
Hampton is renowned across the country for its sporting prowess and for developing athletes into top class professionals. Hampton begins this process by attracting naturally gifted athletes with its facilities and keen focus on sport; an interest shared by many of the academic staff, whether or not they are involved in teaching Physical Education.
It is this commitment and interest which allows such sportsmen as Robert Blythe, Peter Marsland and Akbar Ansari to achieve such esteemed awards. The fact that three former Hamptonians have earned three Blues in three different sports is not only a commendable feat, but also a fantastic reflection on the school itself and its attitude towards sport.
It would be unfair, however, to give all the credit for the success of these athletes to Hampton. Receiving a Blue is a huge accomplishment in itself; however, even this does not truly put into perspective how much each has achieved.
Peter Marsland took up rowing only a few years ago, after suffering a number of rugby injuries which forced him to re-assess his sporting focus. He then quickly went on to compete in the 2007 World Rowing U23 Championships, winning the bronze medal for Great Britain.
Robert Blythe has achieved success in numerous tennis competitions on his way to making the Men’s Blues team at Cambridge University.
Akbar Ansari played first class cricket for Cambridge University Cricket Club, Cambridge University Centre of Cricketing Excellence, as well as for the MCC, for whom he played against the Bangladesh A team.
He top scored in the Cambridge University Match against Oxford earlier this year, making 193 of Cambridge’s first innings total of 386. His contribution with the ball in Oxford’s first innings – four wickets for 50 runs – was a personal best.
In many schools, sport is seen by students as a compulsory activity on a Wednesday afternoon. At Hampton, however, the professionalism which characterises its sports teams sets the school apart and is key to the success it enjoys, ensuring that its students are inspired to pursue sport to a higher level way beyond their school careers.