Jon Roycroft

Oxford Mail:

University of Oxford Director of Sport

The year 2015 was a landmark year for sport at Oxford University.

In April, the men’s and women’s Boat Races were held on the same stretch of the Thames on the same day for the first time in the history of the event.

Similarly, the men’s and women’s rugby teams both played their Varsity Matches at Twickenham for the first time in December.

The significance of these events was clearly more important than the results.

Although as a proud supporter of all things Dark Blue, I can’t resist mentioning that Oxford won three of these four events anyway Looking ahead to 2016, it looks like it will be another big year for sport at Oxford.

While the rest of us were eating to excess over Christmas and new year, a number of our students and alumni were in training for their respective Varsity Matches, other elite sport and in some cases this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Since the first Games in 1896, Oxford alumni from many different countries have won over 160 Olympic medals – more than many countries – and we are confident of adding to that tally this year. Amid all this talk of elite sport, it’s no surprise that many people do not know that Oxford University also opens its sports facilities at Iffley Road to the greater Oxford community.

For a very competitive rate, anyone can run on the same track on which Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, and on which, more recently, Hannah England trained for her silver medal in the 2011 world championships.

Anyone can train in the same low chlorine swimming pool which helped Davis Tarwater to rediscover his love of competitive swimming while he was taking a Masters degree here. He later went on to win a gold medal in the 4 x 200m relay for the USA in 2012.

“I had no intention of swimming while I was in Oxford and when I was approached by the captain I was like ‘yeah, no thanks’,” Davis later told us when he visited the Rosenblatt Swimming Pool on Iffley Road to show us his medal.

“I was burned out, I wanted to focus on my studies but the people in the team were interested in swimming, interested on a level that was like ‘we want to be here’.

“It had always been a job for me so I actually found some love for the sport while I was here.”

More than 800 members of the community regularly use the gym and the pool but with weekday opening hours of 6am to 10pm – apart from when it is used by sports clubs and schools – there is always room for more to join.

We additionally run a lawn tennis club from the beautiful University Parks during the summer months, which is a “secret tennis treasure”, but there remains room for plenty more community members.

Our sports facility at Iffley Road also has squash courts, an indoor sports hall, spinning and circuit’s classes, and an all-weather artificial pitch available for hire for football and hockey.

There is even a great café where you can refuel after your exercise session.

In the longer-term, we plan to radically upgrade our sports facilities at Iffley Road by building new sports halls, new fitness gym sports areas expand our tennis provision and expanded indoor cricket school amongst other services.

We invite you to contact us for a free trial for the gym or pool or to simple ask us for more details. We only ask that when you do bump into a student who is training hard for the Olympics, please give them some encouragement.

* For more information on membership, please visit or for general enquiries or call us on 01865 240476.