For the 11th straight year, the eyes of the BUCS world all focused on four different venues in South Yorkshire. Each year the standard of competition is increasing but despite this all those who pulled on the Lion embroidered vest did the university proud as the results flooded in across the three days.
With so many athletes taking part it would be impossible to look at each and every one of them, but we’ll round up the best results from each sport as well as looking in depth at all our medal winners…
The most successful sport at this year’s BUCS Nationals in terms of medals, athletics matched last year’s total as they came home with eight medals! Scholar Jake Porter kicked off the weekend as he claimed an impressive silver on Friday night in the men’s 60m hurdles. Saturday was then mostly heats and semi finals, and it was not until Sunday afternoon until there was more notable success for UoB. The first gold for athletics came from GB representative and scholar Issy Boffey. Having won the 800m last year it was expected she would go again in her specialist event, but having only recently come back from injury she dropped down a distance to the 400m. This was a slight gamble but one that definitely paid off! Not only was she dominant throughout the race, but she also grabbed a new PB, as she came home in a rapid 53.65. This medal just seemed to open the floodgates at the English Institute of Sport. Around half an hour after Boffey, Cessca Brint managed to hold off the challengers on the line as she claimed silver in the women’s 800m, before first year Tom Keen came out on the right side of a photo finish as he took bronze in the 1500m by the barest of margins. However the athletics success wasn’t just on the track, while the medals had been coming in Laura Zialor had remained focused as she had been competing in the women’s high jump. This focus paid off as she won the event having cleared a massive 1.81m, which is only 2cm off her own club record that she set last year! Finally the day ended with the relays. Not content with just one medal, Issy Boffey anchored the women’s 4x200m to an amazing silver medal. The quartet of Hannah Kelly, Hannah Jones, Lauren Butler and Boffey came home in a club record time of 1:39.85! This result took the total medal tally to six, which was then rapidly increased to eight as the men took the overall silver medal, while the women were edged into bronze by a single point. Sadly it wasn’t all good news for BUAC as Rory the Lion finished last in the mascot race. He had earlier received a formal warning before the gun went off for attempting to hug an official and when the race did eventually start his performance was so poor that the commentator proceeded to claim “Rory the Lion clearly has no understanding of the rules of athletics!”
Much like athletics, badminton was also a three day event. It was a straight knock out format, with both singles and doubles events taking place. The whole club fought incredibly well all weekend, but the quarter finals became the hurdle that no one managed to conquer. Neither club scholar, Evelyn Yu, nor club captain, Samodani Wijetunge, could get any further in the women’s singles and it was a similar story when Lydia Ip and Evelyn Yu teamed up for the women’s doubles. Despite battling hard, they also lost in three games at the quarter final stage. Despite not returning to the West Midlands with any medals this year, every athlete can be proud of their performance, especially in so many tight games that, on another day could have gone Birmingham’s way.
Judo returned a handful of medals towards the Birmingham cause. It is an event that is split into two, with the individual competition on the Saturday and the team event on the Sunday. UoB were successful in both! Junior GB representative Yasmin Javadian, claimed gold in in her specialist event, the women’s -52kg, despite it being her first ever BUCS competition. Holly Bentham followed Javadian to claim a fantastic bronze medal in the women’s -63kg. However the medals didn’t end there, roll around to the team event on Sunday, Javadian and Benthan teamed up with Lauren Semple as they went in the women’s team event. The trio managed to win yet another gold making it a hat trick of medals for judo!
Despite the success of judo, somehow they weren’t the most successful combat sport at BUCS Nationals. Karate managed five medals from their team of 14, making them third out of 50 universities! Sports scholar and UoB Karate Coach, Mairi Kerin, won Gold in the Under 55kg Senior Female Kumite without conceding a single point throughout the tournament. Meanwhile the inexperienced Sophie Prosser made her BUCS debut, and came home with a bronze in the Under 50kg Senior Female Kumite. Previous BUCS Karate medallists Joe Chamberlain and Ben Jefferies both took home bronze and gold respectively in the novice kumite. Joey Lim had an outstanding performance in Male Novice Kata, winning with 5/5 flags from the judges in the final. The Male team kumite narrowly missed out on the bronze medal, losing to Sunderland in the semi-final and then Exeter for the bronze, but nevertheless made extremely strong progress. Karate go on to attend the Kyu Grade National Championships next Sunday (23rd Feb) where they forecast competitors to go on and win national titles.
Being Olympic year, the competition in the BUCS Long Course Championships was extra tough this year, with many international swimmers literally testing the water ahead of Olympic trails in April. The key Birmingham success from the pool came from club captain and scholar Jess Shaw, she upgraded her two bronzes from last year’s championship into two silvers. She won her first one in the Women’s 50m Backstroke in a time of 28.85, breaking the uni record in the process! She then came back the day after and smashed her PB and uni record in the 100m Backstroke to take the silver in a time of 1:02.10! Although this is where the medal success ended for UoB, they managed to secure an impressive 6th finish overall, which matched their most successful BUCS ever performance from last year! The club also saw more finalists, more Club Records and more PBs than ever before and in many events they were unlucky that they couldn’t convert 4th and 5th place finishes into medals, but with so many PBs the club couldn’t ask for more or be prouder of the team.
Fencing had a tough weekend and despite spirited efforts were unfortunate to lose some close match ups which saw them not achieve their full potential. Their best result saw scholar Ben Bates come 12th in the individual foil but after some promising individual performances, fencing will definitely be back challenging again next year.
It was also a tough day at the office for the UoB climbers, the 12 man team fought well but sadly it wasn’t meant to be this year. The pick of the bunch saw Ella Gilbert narrowly miss out on the evening’s climb off as she came in 10th in the women’s individual. She managed to score 186 points across the three walls, which was only 32 points off the eventual winner, but the whole team have made encouraging steps this year and the club can be very excited for the remainder of the season.
Despite BUCS Nationals being over for another year, there is still plenty more action to come. Big BUCS Wednesday is still yet to come this term as well as the final two BUCS Super Series events; Intercept and Lockdown. Make sure you keep an eye on Twitter and Instagram for latest updates and news from all of these events and more!