Imperial alumni help power Oxford rowers to victory
31 March 2011
The millions of Boat Race viewers watching Oxford and Cambridge race along the Thames last Saturday may have had only two universities on their minds, but Imperial had its own hopes pinned on the race outcome.
As the Oxford boat widened the gap once more and surged to victory, it was being partly powered by two Imperial alumni, giving the spectators clustered atop Imperial’s own Boathouse on Putney Embankment a special reason to cheer this year.
Simon Hislop and George Whittaker sat in the stern at positions seven and eight, quickly establishing a relaxed rhythm that proved effective. The victory caps a challenging twelve months for Hislop, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April 2010 but who has had a successful operation to remove the cancer, and is currently clear of the illness.
Elizabeth Richards, a member of the Imperial College Boat Club, described Oxford’s impressive performance:
“They took the lead early in the race, having half a length on Cambridge by Harrods Depository and clear water by St Paul’s School. From then on, the race was Oxford’s to lose and they simply continued to extend their lead, eventually finishing a full twelve seconds ahead of the bookmaker’s favourites, and supposedly more experienced Light Blues.
“Once the race was over, Simon Hislop said ‘It all just seemed to come together really, it just happened on the day. Good fun’.”
During their time at Imperial Whittaker studied Chemical Engineering, graduating in 2004, while Hislop is a former medicine student, who graduated in 2010.
As well as cheering on their old team members Imperial Boatclub also played host to the comedian Ed Byrne, sent along by the BBC to gain a layman’s insight into the sport. His piece can be seen on the BBC’s iPlayer (available until Saturday 2 April), beginning 1 hour and 30 seconds in:
Imperial’s Boatclub was founded in 1919, and the heart of its activities, the Boathouse itself has been in use since 1939. Recent successes include winning the Vistors Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta and the Elite Pairs and Elite Coxless Fours at Henley Women’s Regatta in 2010.