British University & College Sports Championships
Report – Paul Bearman
The British University & College Sports (BUCS) Outdoor Championships were held over 3 days in Manchester and after a brief sunny period on the first morning the competition was held in very challenging cold, windy and showery weather conditions.
BUCS is a very high level competition that attracts numerous young British track and field stars, many with international pedigrees. This year a record 9 Stratford athletes representing 7 different universities competed, with 6 of them competing in these championships for the first time.
Overall, there was a mixed bag of performances with the conditions hardly conducive to good performances, epitomised by the fluctuating changes in Manchester’s weather.
In appalling conditions Emily Madden Forman (Manchester Met) had to hang around in the qualifying round of the High Jump while others tried to reach the qualifying standard for the final and after 30 minutes trying to stay warm and dry with just one jump she qualified for the final.
In the final in better conditions i.e. it wasn’t raining, Emily started her competition at a modest 1.66 opening height and then worked her way through the heights until she was the last women standing and after clearing 1.75 she took the honours to win the gold medal.
Catherine Reynolds (Sheffield), competing for the first time at BUCS surprised all of us watching by executing her plan to “sensibly” run in her 400m heat and with a composed run she qualified 2nd to reach the semi-final in 57.57s.
The semi-finals are where the real shake ups happen and races are considerably harder to judge with much faster athletes in the race but again a perfectly controlled run saw Catherine qualify for the final as 4th fastest overall in the 3 semis in 56.59s just outside her PB.
The final was up against some seasoned junior internationals and so the plan for the final was simply “eyeballs out” and after her best run ever by far an ecstatic Catherine came home in 5thplace and ran a massive PB of 55.91s, breaking the 56 second barrier for the first time.
Imogen Sheppard (Birmingham) is also their team Manager and with a team filled with internationals she was drafted into the heats of the 4x400m relay and they comfortably qualified for the final. In the final they finished 2nd behind the dominant Loughborough team and as member of the squad Imogen went home with a silver medal and in the knowledge that her Uni had finished 2nd in the team event behind Loughborough.
Georgie Campbell (Birmingham) was drafted into their team just 2 days before the event and with a typically dogged run in the 1500m, 4.43.18, she reached the semi-final where she finished 9th and 17th overall on times and well inside the top half of original starters in the heats.
Will Humphreys (Plymouth) has just returned to the club and he ran the 200m in 24.27s which was well inside his PB.
The horizontal jumpers had a mixed weekend and with Nick Butler (Sheffield) hitting the take-off board consistently in the Triple Jump he bounced his way to a massive new PB of 13.23m to finish 14th overall, only 10 centimetres from reaching the final.
However, in the Long Jump, with a fluctuating tail wind, his run up was out of kilter and he managed one jump of 5.46m. Just behind him was Alex Powell (Sheffield Hallam) who is just coming back to competition after injury and he finished with a best jump of 5.30m.
Millie Leighton (Loughborough) jumped well in her Triple Jump heat and finished with 11.32m in a cluster of athletes who jumped similar distances and so Millie finished just outside the qualifying positions for the final.
Acelin Smith (Cardiff Met) competed in the Javelin in a high class field and finished “disappointed” in 14th place with a best throw of 51.29m.
Despite the inclement weather, that included a cloud burst that caused floods, Carolyne and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing our 9 athletes competing in some high class competition. BUCS is certainly a big step up in class for many with the event having junior and full international athletes competing throughout.
What also pleased us was that we had runners, jumpers and a thrower competing and that nearly all of them started in the Under 11s and have progressed through the age groups and are still competing despite all the distractions of Uni life. It made us feel very proud of all of them even though we only just managed to avoid hypothermia and ending up as drowned rats!