What a weekend. Overall, it was BUAC’s most successful BUCS indoors yet, with the most medals (12) and most points (116) accumulated in our history. Both individual stars and incredible depth across the squad meant BUAC finished second overall in the championship, and had a lot of fun while doing it.
Friday saw lots of qualification rounds, with some important banana-skins to be avoided in the heats for our best athletes. There was, however, a singular set of finals: the sixty metres. Star first-year Muslim Habib blew through his heats, before picking up an injury that prevented him from making his final, running slightly slower than the 6.88 clocking in his first heat. In the women’s, Diani Walker made her way to the final unscathed before picking up BUAC’s first medal of the weekend with a fantastic silver medal. The first of many medals to come.
Other highlights from Friday’s qualifiers included all four of Birmingham’s 800m runners making it through the heats, Emma Bakare making it into both the shot put and the triple jump final, and the double automatic qualifying for Josh Woods and Josh Knox, the latter of whom jumping a PB in the process.
Then came Saturday. Similarly to Friday, it was full of great performances to qualify for the finals on Sunday. Toby Irving took part in the men’s pole vault final, however, and gained some great experience in a big competition as he jumped 3.90m - just a centimetre shy of his personal best. In the only other final of the day, Rory the Lion took home a gold medal in the mascots race in a terrifying field including sharks, dragons, and other lions.
Saturday was a supreme example of BUAC’s strength in depth, as every event had an athlete make it through their respective heat/semi final. Individual highlights included Saskia Millard qualifying fastest across the women’s 3,000m heats, Hannah Jones jumping a personal best 5.63m in the women’s long jump, and both relay teams finishing in the top three across their heats. Hearts also went out to Eddie Hunter, who retired injured from his 800m semi final, having cruised to victory in his heat on Friday.
Super Sunday was all set. Numerous finals and non-stop action was promised, and they were certainly delivered. The face-paint station led by Imy Sheppard, Orla Brennan and Issy Boffey, alongside Emma Bakare’s plaiting skills, meant BUAC were ready to dominate - and look good doing it. In the women’s 200m, Maddy Whapples blasted through her heat, before running sub-25 for the first time indoors, clocking in at 24.86s in her semi final. Louise Robinson also made the semi-finals with a 25.41s clocking in her heat, but sadly couldn’t quite make the final in a tough race. Maddy Whapples went on to come 5th in the final, a great result for her first ever BUCS event.
Cameron Bailey and Darian Moore both also made it out of their heats cleanly. The semi-finals in the men’s 200m metres were, however, incredibly ruthless. Track Captain Cameron just missed out on a finals spot, despite running an indoor PB of 21.61s. Darian was also unfortunate in having hamstring problems during his race, meaning he just dipped over 22.00, missing out on a finals spot.
In the 400m races, Olivia Kimbowa came out firing in the women’s event, running a personal best of 57.60. This was not quite enough to make it out of her semi, but a fantastic run nonetheless at her first BUCS. Harry Fisher was then up, and delivered a storming 48.88s race, just missing out on a qualifying spot for the incredibly competitive finals.
Then came the finals, the first of which was the 3,000 metres, featuring Saskia Millard and Maisie Grice. The medal rush began immediately, with Saskia running a personal best 9:17.31 to get BUAC’s first gold medal of the championships. Maisie Grice finished not far behind with a personal best of 9:29.86, earning her a bronze medal in her first 3,000m indoor final.
The men’s 3,000m set off slower than the women’s, with the front runners waiting anxiously for the first person to make a move. BUAC’s Mike Ward stayed in the front pack throughout the race, and in one of the closest finishes of the weekend, he edged into first place on the line to take BUAC’s second gold medal in a time of 8:36.36.
The women’s 800m final saw both Tilly Simpson and Cesca Brint racing together. Cesca ran a fantastically judged race, achieving an indoor personal best of 2:07.53, earning her a silver medal in the process. Tilly also ran very well in her first big competition back since coming back from injury, finishing 6th in a time of 2:13.67.
Tyler Bilyard then stepped up in the 800m men’s final. In a stacked field, Tyler came through in 1:52.39 - meaning that he finished 4th overall. He may have just missed out on a medal this time, but you can only imagine he will come back stronger next year and come away with some silverware.
The 1500m final was yet another that featured two BUAC athletes: Sabrina Sinha and Emily Thompson. Emily made a fantastic move with around 300m to go, but Sabrina’s strength came through as she powered to victory and a gold medal. Emily clung onto a well-earned bronze, finishing in a strong 4:27.08.
Elliot Moran snuck into the final after an awesome 1500m effort on Saturday, and it seemed that perhaps some of his fatigue crept in as he coudln’t quite stay with the leading pack. Despite this, he finished in a great time of 3:55.61, as well as earning a precious BUCS point for finishing in 8th position.
In the field, Emma Bakare opened up the day’s action by hopping between the shot put and triple jump finals, both of which she qualified for on Friday. In the triple jump, she finished in 4th place after a fantastic personal best of 11.88m. In the shot put, she came in 6th position, with a great effort of 12.21m. Bringing home BUCS points in both events shows how Emma absolutely embodied being a dual-threat athlete, capping off a great weekend for her.
In the women’s pole vault final, Trinity O’Connor cleared 3.35m, just short of a personal best, in a great showing from her. Emily Scrivener also competed while fending off a cold, and they will hope to come back next year to fulfil their true potential in this event.
In the men’s triple jump, Josh Woods opened up with a 14.95m effort, which would prove enough to take home the gold medal in this event - the first medal of the field athletes. Josh Knox, after a personal best on Saturday, also brought home BUCS points by finishing in 6th position.
Evan Campbell competed supremely well on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that he competed in both the shot put and high jump finals on Sunday. The decathlete competed extremely well in both, narrowly missing out on BUCS points in the shot (9th place throwing 13.07m) and the high jump (9th clearing 1.90m). As with many of our athletes, he will be back next year to attempt to bring home points for BUAC, as well as make even more finals.
Alice Linaker and Hannah Jones jumped very well in the women’s long jump, both bringing home BUCS points for their efforts. Hannah finished in 7th position with a 5.60m jump, and Alice finished 8th with a 5.45m effort.
Alice also brought home points in the high jump, clearing 1.63m - a very impressive achievement after a very busy weekend. Lily Holt struggled slightly in the final, but will take many positives from her 1.63 clearance on Saturday to send her through to the final.
The men’s long jump was one of the most anticipated events for BUAC. The duo of Sam Khogali and Jake Burkey is one of the strongest pairings we have had for a very long time. The two have been trading club records this year so far, so it is no surprise that both athletes brought silverware back to Birmingham. BUAC president Jake Burkey, after winning the intervarsity match, took home a huge gold medal with a leap of 7.50m. Personal best: check. Club record: check. Sam finished with a bronze medal with a fantastic leap of 7.43m, cementing an awesome result for BUAC in the last of the field events.
Finally, the two relay teams stepped out to finish the championships. The girls were up first. Olivia Kimbowa, following her fantastic 400m efforts earlier in the day, ran a storming first leg to put BUAC into third position, before handing the baton over to Hannah Jones. Hannah then passed to Jasmine Clark, who ran an absolutely blistering leg to bring BUAC into silver medal position. Issy Boffey, following her victory in the 1,000m at the Grand Prix on Saturday, ran a hugely important anchoring leg, consolidating the silver medal for the women’s squad.
For the boys, an injury to Darian Moore meant that the squad was not at its best. Other injuries meant that Panashe Majuru was the only person fit to start out of blocks, but he still produced a great first leg that left BUAC in second spot. Muslim Habib then ran a fantastic second leg, before passing the baton to Cameron Bailey. With Cameron’s early exit in the 200m, it seemed he had lots left in the tank - solidifying BUAC in second place behind Loughborough. All eyes were then on Harry Fisher to anchor the men home. Just by looking at the splits, you would think that Harry’s leg was one of the weaker ones in our relay performance, but this was not the case at all. Harry pulled his hamstring around the opening bend, meaning he had to nurse BUAC home in a huge amount of pain. It was breathtaking to see. Bringing the baton home in third place was a gargantuan effort from Harry, embodying the resilience and grit that is instilled in the BUAC culture.