BUCS Nationals 2014- Athletics
The EIS in Sheffield provided the stage for a hugely impressive showing from the UoB Athletics team at the Gatorade Nationals, with an array of fantastic performances, PBs and medals to show for all their impressive work.
Caiohme King was the star of the day for Birmingham, as she proved why she’s referred to as ‘Queen of the Triple Jump’, blowing away the opposition to secure gold, much to the delight of her teammates.
The track also proved a fruitful location for the UoB athletes, as the ever-vocal Birmingham crowd got behind them to spur them on to an extremely successful couple of days.
In the 200m, Seb Tully-Middleton and Rebecca Williams set the bar high for the rest of the day’s action, dominating their respective heats and both finishing fifth in their individual finals. Ben Waterman continued the excellent display of running in his 800m heats, and managing to secure a bronze medal in the final despite fierce competition. Julia Cooke and Georgie Bell came agonisingly close in the Women’s 800m, finishing fourth and fifth respectively, racing superbly but just falling short of a coveted podium finish.
As the distance increased – so did the success. Sarah McDonald provided one of the moments of the weekend, securing bronze in a thrilling 1500m women’s final. Melissa Courtney of Brunel University led from the off, and at one point had fifty metres between herself, McDonald and Loughborough’s Sophie Tyers. On the last lap, however, Courtney’s legs began to fail her, and Tyers completed the most unlikely of comebacks to pass the Brunel athlete on the home straight and take the gold medal. Birmingham’s Stuart Ferguson was just a few hundredths of a second away from matching McDonald’s accomplishments in the men’s 1500m final, but his despairing lunge on the finish line came up just short. The seemingly ageless James Thie of Cardiff Met once again came away with gold.
Laura Riches gave absolutely everything in the women’s 3000m final and was deservedly rewarded with a bronze medal. No such luck for Jack Killip in the men’s, who did tremendously well in qualifying to reach the final but came tenth overall, with Cardiff Met’s Stephen Mitchell securing gold.
In the team events, it was the 4x200m relays that brought the biggest cheers from the Birmingham crowd. The women’s team, despite having next to no time racing together prior to the event, achieved an extremely impressive fifth. The men’s team were similarly successful, managing to snatch second in their race after capitalising on a class between UEL and Cardiff Met at the changeover. As ugly scenes broke out between the two teams on the track, the result was confirmed – the silver medal was Birmingham’s.
That silver medal was enough to secure third place in the combined team rankings for Birmingham, but it was Loughborough who once again took the prize in both the men’s and women’s tables.
Highlights from other universities’ performances included Nottingham high-jumper Isobel Pooley setting a new Championship best height of 1.87, and a truly incredible finish to the men’s 400m, where James Forman of Brunel snatched victory from the hands of UEL’s London 2012 Olympian, Christian Morton.
Asked where his team’s efforts in 2014 ranked alongside previous finals, head coach Mike Bull described it as ‘right up there’, and added ‘To get points virtually in every endurance race and then to get so many people in the finals and getting points in the field events: fantastic’.
With the university’s athletic track soon to close, challenges lie ahead for the team, but few will be betting against this hugely talented group of athletes from going on to even greater successes in the years to come.
Niall Flynn and Josh Hunt