On 14-17 July 2011, Loughborough University was the proud home of one of the largest multi-sport events in the UK – The UK Corporate Games.
Branded as “the ultimate combination of Sport, Business and Tourism,” the UK Corporate Games welcomed over 50 companies to campus, competing across 22 different sports in various venues in Loughborough and the surrounding area.
The event is also used as a team building and networking exercise from companies countrywide, highlighted by the array of stash, training and fancy dress at the official awards party in Loughborough Students Union on the Saturday night.
Vodafone ran out eventual winners from CSC and Towers Watson, with Loughborough University finishing a credible 9th out of 55 competing companies, with notable successes coming in the form of Gold in the Rugby 7’s, Singles Tennis in the form of Alexis Lluis-Gomez and Heike Joens and for Mark Thorpe in the 1500m Swimming, a silver for Val Mitchell in the Women’s Squash and creditable bronze medals for Sarah Melville in the 750m Swimming and LSU’s ‘Falcons’ in Mixed Volleyball.
Over 1000 competitors descended onto campus for the event, the majority filling imago’s halls of residence and getting back into the student lifestyle after years in the adult wilderness.
The sports hall was transformed into a supercentre for the Thursday and Friday of the event, allowing each competitor to register and experience the true athletes experience and pick up some freebies along the way thanks to the many sponsors who made the games possible.
The imago barbeque outside was also proving popular despite the inclement and overcast skies.
The UK Corporate Games kicked off in earnest on the Friday, with preliminary competitions but it wasn’t until the weekend where the real fun, games and intense showers commenced, soaking the footballers and preventing play in the cricket until mid-afternoon.
For LSU’s two volleyball teams, the weather proved less problematic. Rather the standard of the opposition was the main obstacle for the ‘Exec Elect,’ who promptly lost the three pool matches to end as the bottom seed for the knockouts the following day.
Somewhat more successful were the ‘Falcons,’ comprised of outgoing LSU Executive members and a couple of ringers in the form of Felix Tsui from the Men’s Volleyball Club and the SDC’s Sam Manning.
After a confidence boosting victory against the NHS, the Falcons were narrowly beaten by eventual runners up Ernst and Young before cruising their final two fixtures to end second in Pool 2.
As the sun defeated the cloud, Saturday evening witnessed a stunning athlete’s parade around the athletics track led by a drum band and Oak FM’s Oaky Bear, all culminating in a welcome from the UK Corporate Games and their partners.
Particularly moving was the speech delivered by Bob Wilson, founder of the Willow Foundation and Patron of the UK Corporate Games. Having lost his daughter to cancer, the former Arsenal goalkeeper spoke with engaging passion about his charity before firing tennis balls into the masses gathered on Rigg-Rut lawn for a competition.
The official Games Party took place in LSU afterwards, with many thirty somethings putting us students to shame with an ‘L’ themed fancy dress extravaganza welcoming ladybirds, lamps and lions to the building. Indio Black and Rockeoke provided the entertainment that lasted well into the early hours and contributed to a sore athlete’s head or two the following morning.
An early Sunday morning start proved the undoing of the Exec Elect, capitulating to a further three successive defeats, whilst across the partition, an injury ravaged Men’s Basketball team succumbed to their opponents to end fourth in the competition after some initial promise in Saturday’s contests.
More fruitful on the day of rest were the Falcons who dispatched another Ernst & Young side to reach the semi finals and a mouthwatering tie against the competition favourite’s, Vodafone.
After falling to an early 11 point deficit, the Falcons clawed their way back into contention in the second half, reducing the margin to two points at one stage before time and luck ran out for LSU’s team, losing by a mere four points to the tournaments eventual winners.
A morale boosting victory over an angry Intel outfit secured a podium finish for the Falcons, much to the apparent delight of Ernst & Young and Vodafone, who cheered on the purples as if they were their own.
Under more drizzle, Loughborough and their counterparts from across the country collected their medals in a quirky ceremony in front of the iconic Hazlerigg building.
Loughborough University can celebrate arguably the smoothest and most successful UK Corporate Games ever, with outstanding contributions from imago, the SDC, LSRag and University staff to ensure the event ran almost without a hitch.
Sunshine has been ordered for Preston 2012.