Hundreds of UoN (University of Nottingham) students made the short journey north up the M1 on Friday morning to compete in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Championships against 6,000 students from universities across the United Kingdom last weekend (17th – 19th February).

The green and gold returned to Nottingham on Sunday evening with 12 podium finishes, a vast number of personal best times and totals, and hundreds of performances to be proud of for the contingent of athletes which competed throughout the three days in South Yorkshire.

Friday 17th February

There were some fantastic displays for the university on the first day of Nationals action as badminton, athletics, fencing and swimming were on the agenda at the EIS (English Institute of Sport Sheffield) as well as various locations across Sheffield’s city centre.

One of the green and gold’s stars to watch at the Nationals was athletics scholar Tatum Souza. She qualified for the shot put final on the first day. In the fencing at Graves Tennis Centre, Ed Christie and Josh Stevens reached the tableau of 32 in the men’s epee. Meanwhile in Badminton, there were defeats for singles players Hilda Ho and Leeshan Punchihewa in the first round of heats along with James Anderson in the second round, while Emily Witts and David Maugham progressed to the final round of mixed doubles qualifying.

Impact Sport caught up with Head of Performance Badminton at UoN Martyn Lewis prior to the weekend’s action. He was setting the club’s heights high for the three days in Sheffield, “all of these players who were part of the BUCS weekend go in with the ladies team doing so well in the BUCS leagues and the AJ Bell Final win against Team Derby.”

“We’re hoping that every competitor can give their all and then the results will take care of themselves. We have some good chances to get some medals.”

Saturday 18th February

The middle day of the Nationals was particularly successful for the martial arts clubs. The first medal of the day came at Ponds Forge for UoN Karate with a bronze in the team for Kata.

The men’s team later also achieved another third place finish. For UoN Judo, Gytis Jucikaz and Ali Pickwell in the -63kg division picked up more bronze medals for the Green and Gold at the All Saints Sports College.

Over at Graves Tennis Centre for our fencing teams on Saturday, Amy Parsons and Cara Chambers moved through to the last 32 of the women’s foil, following on from the two last 32 places achieved on Friday in the men’s epee.

Parsons, in her eighth year of competing at the BUCS National Championships, finished in joint-sixteenth after a tough clash with Edinburgh’s Lissman. The veteran dueller said, “it’s been my best result in a long time, my first BUCS was 10 years ago. In my four years at Nottingham I’ve seen the club grow massively both in the participation and performance sides, we’ve seen our team members go from strength to strength.

In the pool there was late drama on Saturday at Ponds Forge as James Newton and Courtney Price reached the 50 metre backstroke A final finishing eighth and sixth respectively. The latter achieved a personal best in doing so, while it was Newton’s first ever BUCS final. Price also finished fifth in the 200 metre backstroke A final.

Alex Kirtley and Will Rose also attained PB’s in the men’s 50 metre breaststroke and backstroke. A massive effort from the relay teams in the B 4 x 100 metre freestyle produced a sixth placed finish in the women’s and a seventh in the men’s.

On the track in the EIS, Megan Gildea got a personal best in action in the 1500 metre semi-final whilst at The Climbing Works, the green and gold’s climbing team had three hours to complete a ‘problem’ route in three separate rounds of action at where 500 students were competing on Saturday.

UoN Athletics attained multiple PB’s throughout the weekend

Sunday 19th February

There were six podium finishes for the university’s athletes on the last day including silver in the -53kg division for UoN Karate club president Lorna Hack, bronze medals for scholar Tatum Souza in the shot put, and for the men’s judo team, adding to their bronze medals in individual events on Saturday.

“Enormous praise and credit must go to the hundreds of University of Nottingham students who competed in a fantastic weekend of university sport in Sheffield.”

It was also an explosive finish to the weekend for our badminton side. Li Lian Yang defeated Lyddia Cheah of Derby to claim the gold medal in women’s singles whilst Hilda Ho and Vanessa Chien reached the final of the women’s doubles to earn silver. Malaysian international Yang also picked up a bronze in the mixed doubles with Rohan Mihda (scholar) in a thrilling finale on court in the EIS.

Yang’s singles final proved a stern test for the 24 year-old masters student, Lyddia Cheah took the first set 21-15 with the Derby student beginning in terrific form, but Yang then came back to take the second and third in ruthless fashion with impeccable accuracy and variation of shots.

UoN Badminton in delirium after their 3 medals on Sunday

In field athletics, Tatum Souza’s bronze in the shot put was earned with a throw of 13.75 metres – just 1.28 metres off of first place, taking 6 BUCS points for UoN. It was a deserved finish for the Californian whose Nationals hopes of heptathlon gold were scuppered by a leg injury, forcing her to unfortunately pull out of the long jump, high jump, and 4 x 200 metre relay over the course of the weekend.

“The points secured by the UoN Sports teams this weekend in Sheffield will no doubt be instrumental in the university’s overall BUCS total come the end of the season.”

On the track there was an impressive finish in the 3000 metres final for UoN Athletics club president Jack Millar, taking two BUCS points with 7th place and a time of 8:33. A delighted Millar after the race said, “it was really tough because I’d ran in the heat yesterday and only had 24 hours to recover. I’m really happy with the final position, I was amazed that I was in the final to start with so anything beyond that was a bonus.”

After this weekend’s results the green and gold have closed the gap to just under 200 points between themselves and second-placed Durham in the BUCS rankings. The points secured by the UoN Sports teams this weekend in Sheffield will no doubt be instrumental in the university’s overall BUCS total come the end of the season. Enormous praise and credit must go to the hundreds of University of Nottingham students who competed in a fantastic weekend of university sport in Sheffield.

Joe Tanner

Images courtesy of University of Nottingham Sport

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