Athletics on form at BUCS Outdoors

The BUCS Outdoor Athletics Championships took place over the bank holiday weekend from May 3rd to May 5th at the Bedford International Athletic Stadium.

Cardiff University Athletics Club’s comparatively small but dedicated team put in some impressive performances to come home with four medals and finish 11th in the overall standings against stiff competition and ahead of some much bigger teams.

The day got off to a great start on the Saturday, as Toni Wells won Cardiff’s first medal of the Championships in the very first final, taking bronze in the women’s hammer with a throw of 54.90m.  This took Toni straight to the top of the Welsh rankings with her season opener.

Cardiff’s next top-eight finish came on day two, with James Wright taking seventh place in the men’s triple jump with a best effort of 14.60m.  This meant that he fell short of his personal best by just 3cm, despite the unfavourable wind conditions on the day.

After many Cardiff athletes had competed in the heats on the track and qualifying events for the field events on first two days, the last day of the Championships was dominated by finals and this undoubtedly led to Cardiff producing their best results of the weekend.

The team started emphatically on Monday morning, with Dan Nash coming agonisingly close to a medal in the men’s 5,000m.

Having run a massive personal best to win his heat, he went even quicker in the final, but his time of 14 minutes 41.36 seconds left him just 1.28 seconds shy of the bronze medal.

The best was yet to come, however, as Cardiff took double gold on the final day.  The first came courtesy of Lucy Stickland in the women’s pole vault, to add to the bronze medal she won at the BUCS Indoor Championships earlier this year.  In a very strong field, Stickland’s jump of 3.60m was 10cm ahead of the rest of the competitors and equaled her best-ever jump outdoors.

Moments later, Hannah Thomas took the title in the women’s 200m in dramatic fashion.  Arguably the pre-event favourite having won the BUCS Indoors in February, Thomas managed to edge the win in a photo finish.  Her time of 24.46 was just enough to beat Cardiff Metropolitan’s Mica Moore by one hundredth of a second.

Even a tumble after she crossed the line and a resulting sprained wrist could not dampen Thomas’ spirits as she got her outdoor season off to a flier.

Thomas told gair rhydd: “I’m over the moon to add the outdoor BUCS title to the one that I won indoors earlier this year.  It was a great race to be part of and it was really close but I’m happy with my performance.

“All the team have been so supportive of one another over the weekend and we had some really great performances across the board.  I can’t wait to come back next year to be a part of this team again and defend my title.”

After the excitement of Stickland and Thomas’ titles, there was yet more success for Cardiff.  Matt Lasis, having finished ninth and just fallen short of a personal best in the discus on Saturday, took Cardiff’s final medal of the weekend with a bronze in the men’s hammer. This meant that Cardiff achieved the double with medals in both the men’s and women’s hammer events.

Lasis’ throw of 59.31m again came very close to his personal best.  To be so close to his best-ever form so early in the season is highly encouraging.

These results meant that Cardiff amassed a total of 35 team points.  With the men’s team 16th and the women’s team ninth out of over 100 universities and colleges, 11th place overall was a highly commendable overall placing amongst such a large number of universities with a lot of very strong competitors.

David Hooson

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