by Luke Wakeling
Cardiff University Athletics Club earned their best performance in years at the BUCS Athletics Indoor Championships last weekend. There were silver medals for James Heneghan and Lauren Cooper in the 1500m and 3000m respectively and a bronze for Esther Adikpe in the 400m. Jonny Hopkins and John Howorth also finished fifth in their events meaning all the distance athletes got top-five finishes, highlighting the strength in depth in the current CUAC squad.
Heneghan discusses the closely contested final and “long-term” aim of winning a BUCS medal at University.
“It’s been an aim to medal at BUCS since coming to University and it took a while to sink in after the race that I had actually won a medal.
“I wanted to race from the front, keep it slow to start and then build the pace gradually, like I had done to win my semi-final, and for the first 1000m, I led it like I planned.
“However, I switched off for 100m and found myself in 5th with 400m to go. At that point I panicked as the people ahead of me were fast sprinters, but I managed to find something and started overtaking them again.”
Heneghan took the 1500m silver in an impressive time of 3:59.35 minutes, with the top six all within a second of each other; the winning time was 3:59.26 and sixth was 4:00.87, including Cardiff’s Howorth in fifth with a time of 4:00.73.
“To miss out on the win by just 9 hundredths of a second having made a small mistake was quite annoying at first, however, to get silver after being in 5th with 400m to go felt like an amazing result.”
Heneghan’s aims for the rest of the season include making the final at Senior British Championships and competing well at the BUCS outdoors and National U23 championships, whilst hopefully picking up some PBs along the way.
The 1500m runner is excited about the future of CUAC, with the current crop of athletes showing great potential.
“This BUCS indoors was one of CUAC’s best performances in years. There are a lot of talented athletes at the University at the moment, so personally I’m excited to see how we all progress.”
Fellow silver medallist Lauren Cooper is another of these talented athletes, coming second in the 3000m in a time of 9:50.96 minutes.
Cooper was “really pleased” with her performance considering her ranking and condition before the final.
“I’ve been struggling with a chest infection and was unsure if I’d be able to compete. I was ranked eighth going into the final, so second was a great outcome. BUCS indoors was my primary aim, so I’d been training pretty hard for it, but as its cross-country season, I also had to factor that in. I was a bit worried I’d have heavy legs from all the mud, as BUCS XC was only two weeks ago.”
BUCS is the highlight for many athletes at University, with the best competitors from all over the country visiting the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
“BUCS is one of the most serious competitions that I’ve taken part in,” says Cooper.
“There are so many amazing athletes doing incredible things. I love being a part of that. It’s great travelling up as part of a team and supporting each other over the whole weekend.
“It can be daunting lining up on the start line the second day, especially if you’ve come through a difficult heat, but everyone’s in the same boat, and I like seeing how my body reacts when the gun goes.”
Cooper aims to compete in the steeplechase at the BUCS outdoors and British Champs.
“I’m aiming to compete in the steeplechase at BUCS outdoors in May, then British Champs, so a lot of my training will be focused on strength work, water jump practice, and track sessions. I’ll also be doing a few 1500m races for speed, and 10ks for strength.”
Heneghan and Cooper exemplify CUAC’s current success, with the future bright for Cardiff University Athletics Club. The squad will look to build on this momentum ahead of BUCS Outdoors and Varsity.