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BUCS Indoors 2019 - T&F Captain Blog

As Sheffield University’s Track and Field Captain, I’ve been asked to write a blog covering our BUCS Indoors weekend (15th-17th February 2019). This is new territory for me. I’ve never considered writing a blog before for a number of reasons, primarily because why would anyone ever want to read about anything I have to say? But also, because I’ve not had to write anything remotely engaging or interesting since GCSE English (I’m talking 7/8 years ago) and I’m not entirely sure I’m capable of it. So, there we are, disclaimer out of the way please read on if you can be bothered, for my attempt at a Newsletter-inspired, craic-esque run down of the weekend’s events.

It’s worth noting at this point that I’m not entirely sure where we finished overall as BUCS very rarely update their website. We had a fair number of (SPOILER ALERT) medallists and finalists though so I’m willing to bet we fulfilled the role of surprisingly plucky underdogs (that seems to be our permanent position in recent years) yet again.


Things kicked off, at least for me, on Friday morning. I was there bright and early to submit literally thousands of substitutions and withdrawals as it seemed half our team were struck down with injury, illness or a sudden change of heart as to which events they wanted to do (naming no names, but I will name Dom Brown).

The short sprinters were up first in the event that I regularly refer to as “not and event”. Eima seemed to take no notice of me, breezing through his heat with a solid 7.04 to open things up for us. Fresher “Yesman” Michael followed his example with a 7.16pb to scrape into the semis but came off dissatisfied, as always. Cheer up man. Here’s a happy photo of you:

The girls, inspired by the boys runs, and seemingly each other, decided to both run 8.25. An outright PB for Isla and a best run in literally a thousand or more days for Emily!

In the semis, Eima ran another consistent 7.04 in a rapid race. Unfortunately, it looks as if his (and all the sprinters’) dreams of beating the age old club record of 6.99 may be fading away. He’ll have one more shot at Varsity, but is going to have to try harder at hills if he fancies it, I reckon.

In the 60m hurdles, Jonnie backed up an impressive indoor season, running close to her PB in the heat. With Curtis out injured since the summer and only just back running by BUCS indoors, it was down to our decathletes to step up and knock over some barriers. Our resident Italian international, James Paoluzzi did exactly that, running a scrappy race but a season’s best – not bad for a guy who was showing more tape than quadriceps. The real hurdles hero was Sam Talbot. Our fresher decathlete, in his first set of races since a serious knee injury in 2017, had already broken our club 60mh record (soz Curtis) and was very close to doing it again in the heat. Overall, he finished 7th in a loaded hurdle final, claiming our first points of the weekend.

Friday also saw our 800 boys’ first runs. They both laid down markers, showing they weren’t there to mess around. Both dominated their heats, shutting down any challenges from would-be rivals and booking their places in the semi finals on Saturday. Easy work.

The last event of the day for our athletes was the Ambulant 60m Women’s final. Tor Basket flew out of the blocks and pulled away, crossing the line first with a big PB of 8.89. By some witchcraft and trickery that I don’t quite understand, the BUCS officials decided that this performance was worthy of a silver medal. The first medal of the weekend and great end to Friday’s action!


“Local hero”, (his words, not mine) Dom Brown was first up on Saturday in the 1500m heats. He was so confident (cocky) he felt able to breeze through the heat in his trainers. Which he did. Unapologetically. Then he went home for a nap before returning for the semi final later in the day. Just not a level playing field.

I was up next. I had a race plan for my 400m heat, but I can’t remember what it was. I went out as hard as I ever have through the first 200m, then relaxed and finished not so hard - a comfortable sub 50 win in the heat, that’ll do. Our resident Frenchman was up next, finishing 3rd in his heat with a 51.39 iPB, annoyingly fractionally slower than a Hallam rival who saw off Alex’s chances of making the semi-finals.

After illness during the week, Amy Gellion wasn’t sure if she’d be able to run the individual 400m at the weekend, but she blew her heat away to run her first sub 57 of the season (56.99) and book her place in the semis (unfortunately she didn’t feel up to it the next day and pulled out). Heather followed up by booking her own place in the semis with her first sub 59 second run of the season.

Next up on track were the 800 boys’ semi-finals. Ollie took the race on from the start but was unlucky with his draw. Two eventual medallists pushed him all the way but ended up crossing the line before him, eliminating his chances of making the final. Harry’s debilitating cold didn’t stop him from outclassing his Loughborough opponent once again, claiming control over the race, victory and a place in a second consecutive BUCS indoor 800m final.

In the field James Paoluzzi and his taped-up quad managed a 6.54m leap in the long jump, whilst Tom Hughes managed a 1.85m high jump and Ben Clarke made his way into the high jump final by winning his pool in 1.93m.

Back on the track were the 3000m heats. Tommy Horton (or is that Shelby?!) and his not-so-fresh legs still controlled the race, two flat out 1500s and a big 5K road PB in the week didn’t seem to be holding him back. Fresher Stella Cross also put in a great performance to secure a spot for Sunday’s final. Dom got back from his nap in time to take on the 1500m semi-final. He decided to put his spikes on this time. Good thing he did too, he won it comfortably, but it was a quicker race than anyone was expecting, giving Dom the opportunity to improve his own indoor club record on the way.

As a club, sometimes we talk about the relays. But we sometimes #donttalkabouttherelays. We’ve become relay specialists in recent years, but it doesn’t always go our way. This time was no different. The boys went out and did the business first. Slick change overs, rapid splits and a tasty battle with Cardiff Met and East London in the heat dragged us round to a qualifying time for the final. Job done.

So it seemed, was the job done for the girls. They got the baton around, won the heat in 1min 42.something. They looked fast, safe and ready to challenge for another medal in the final. Then we hear that they’ve been DQ’d. Tez, Heather and I go and find out what’s going on. Apparently the officials saw a changeover zone infringement so obvious it wasn’t worth us appealing. No wonder Tez hates watching the relays. Agony for the girls, but a lesson learned, and they’ll be back stronger than ever for outdoors!


Isla Golder and fresher Izzy Mills kicked off Sunday’s action with SBs in the 200m heats. Not to be outdone, freshers Shea Holloway and Ben Whittaker also posting SB performances. Shea’s 22.89 was enough to advance to the finals.

Next up were the 400m semis. Shout out to Cam for keeping my legs in one piece over the weekend. I took on my 400 semi from early on, but allowed myself to be bullied after the break, losing momentum and trailing around in second place, narrowly missing out on the final. Still, a 49.57 iPB in a poorly executed race bodes well for the outdoor season, I guess! Heather decided to one better than me and post an overall PB in her semi final! A great result after an indoor season that I’m sure she’ll admit, took a little while to get going. But a 58.40 PB at this stage of the year means that we know she’ll be well into the 57s by outdoors.

In the field, it was a good day for fresher George Osborne. A PB and new club record of 4.50m earned him 9th place overall. By this point, James and his tape were on their literal last legs. But well done and thanks to him for filling up the events, supporting and doing a great job during his stints on camera duty. Only just back in time to compete after injury, Ben Clarke claimed a new indoor club record and 8th place finish in the High Jump final with an impressive 1.96m!

Back on track, the men’s 3000m final was a learning curve for Tommy Shelby (Horton?!). After the heartbreak of being stripped of his gold medal last year, he wanted to go out there and make amends. But there were just too many races in the legs, it seemed. Tommy is a man who makes running look easy most of the time, but even I could see it in his face that this was one race too many for one week. A good effort saw him come home in 9th to end what was basically the training week from hell. He’ll be fresh and ready to attack the steeplechase, come outdoors though. Stella Cross capped off a fantastic first BUCS by claiming some points for Sheffield University! She truly stepped up to fill an injured Becky Rigby’s shoes with a strong finish for 8th place and a big PB!

Harry was disappointed with 6th place in the 800m final, but given the strength of the field, his battle with a horribly timed cold and 3 hard races over 3 days, I think he can be more than proud of what he achieved.

Dom finished off the individual track races in style. He kicked when he didn’t even need to and gapped the rest of the field, winning by a huge margin, claiming the championship, the gold medal and a banner-like picture crossing the line across the top of BUCS-Sport’s Instagram page. I was standing around trying to keep warm outside the call room for the relay final whilst cheering him on. Michael went above and beyond with the support, jumping for joy when Dom crossed the line. In Dom’s head this moment happened about 5 years ago. After silver last year, he has finally claimed what he always knew was his, albeit at the ripe old age of 37. He now only answers to the name “Local Hero” and has been utterly insufferable ever since. Let’s hope he never wins BUCS again. Jk.

I had the honour of being the last person to cross the finish line at BUCS indoors this year. Which doesn’t sound so impressive when I read it back. We managed 5th in the relay final, Hallam would’ve crossed the line behind me, but their last leg runner unfortunately pulled up injured. We didn’t quite have the footspeed to challenge the talented teams of Loughborough, UEL, Cardiff Met and Strathclyde – not to mention having to try and compete from lane two and my run being heavily impeded as soon as I got the baton by some massive UEL unit. I think we did well though, despite the obstacle and having to run from lane 2, we were very close to our club record and didn’t give up without a fight. Very proud of the relay boys <3.

If you’re still reading, I’m impressed by your dedication, but must ask have you got nothing better to be doing? I apologise for what at times has seemed like a long list of results. Now for the really boring, but important bit. The thanks:

Huge thank you to coach Martin (Tez) Cook for his endless dedication to the cause, getting the sprinters into shape (and from a selfish point of view – me into shape). Team managing and competing can be hard work over BUCS weekend but you remind me what to do and when to do it, so thanks for that! I’m sorry the relays didn’t quite go to plan but we’re still up there and have as good a shot as ever for outdoors!

Thanks also to Cam for keeping us all in one piece all weekend. Over the week I think I had 4 massages (worth it, even though it gave me spots). Hopefully this was the start of a long lasting partnership between Evolve Sports Massage and the club. It really helped to take the added pressure of massaging everyone off Tez.

Thanks to the committee and Harry in particular for helping make sure that everything has gone to plan up to this point so far, coming down to support the team and taking photos all weekend.

Thanks also to those who were not competing but still came down to watch, or those who stuck around to support or came back to support after they had finished competing. The support and family nature of our club really sets it miles apart and above from other clubs of our competitive level and makes us such a special club to be a part of. Finally, a big thank you to all of our athletes who competed. Your professionalism, dedication have been a joy to witness so far and I’m sure it’ll carry on even stronger into the outdoor season.

It only remains to congratulate everyone on an immensely successful weekend, so well done to everyone who gave it their all, we were definitely rewarded with how well we performed. It was a pleasure to captain this team two years ago and it’s a pleasure once again.

Thanks again everyone.

Liam McGivern

(A proud Track and Field Captain)

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