RORY DWYER produced his best ever season-opening performance to take the high jump silver medal at the British Universities & College Sports (BUCS) Outdoor Championships in Bedford.
Held over three days in challenging conditions, Dwyer was one of six Stratford Athletic Club members in action. The other five were competing at these championships for the first time. BUCS is a competition which attracts many young British track and field stars, which means the Stratford youngsters really had to step up their game.
Dwyer, competing for Loughborough Students, is getting back to his best and sailed over 1.89m in appalling conditions to qualify for the final. Jumping in better conditions the following day, Dwyer took the silver medal with 2.12m, finishing just behind Loughborough team-mate Will Grimsey.
BUCS first-timer Jess Sheppard, competing for Nottingham Uni, ran 60.55 in her 400m heat and 60.10 in the semi-finals.
Dan Boyd is studying at Gloucestershire Uni and this was his first outdoor BUCS appearance. In a 100m heat with strong wind assistance, he was pulled along to a time of 11.33 – his fastest ever time under any conditions. The following day he jumped a wind-assisted 6.32m in the long jump qualifying round.
Emily Madden Forman, competing for Liverpool John Moores Uni, was also a BUCS debutant. Struggling with a nagging ankle injury, she managed a modest 1.56m in the qualifying round of the high jump.
Dan Hague is studying at Birmingham University and he doubled up in the discus and javelin, despite a shoulder problem. The discus was held in a hailstorm and he finished with a best of 19.07m, but he threw a season’s best of 40.30m in his more favoured javelin event.
To demonstrate the high level of the competition, it was won by the UK’s leading javelin thrower, Harry Hughes, with a massive 78.63m.
Fergus Allison, a student at Brunel University, made his return to racing in the 800m after long-term injury. Whilst his time of 2:05.77 was unsurprisingly down on where he would like to be, just getting back on the track and running within himself was a good first step to full fitness.
The UK Youth Development League is not a competition Stratford AC chooses to compete in, but for some under 17/20 athletes it is a good opportunity to compete for other clubs as second-claim members to help with their competitive development.
SAC is closely aligned with Rugby & Northampton AC who compete in the high level Upper Midland Premier Division and the Stratford athletes made a good impact at the recent match in Birmingham as R&NAC finished second behind Birchfield Harriers.
Under 17 athlete Georgie Campbell smashed the club record in winning the 1,500m with 4:42.53, while U20 Imogen Sheppard did the same in the 400m, winning with 58.43.
Combined-eventer Millie Leighton is in her first year as an U17 but finished third in the U20 triple jump with 10.28m and fourth in the U17 shot put with 8.42m.
U17 Jasmine Williams finished second in her heat of the 100m in 13.38 and her twin brother Cole, competing for Birchfield, had a superb win in the 100m hurdles, clocking 13.25 for the second-fastest time of the season so far in the UK, breaking a hurdle on the way. It was a PB by more than a second, showing how hard he was worked over the winter.
Ollie Wear had a busy day in the U17 throws, finishing first in the javelin with 47.01m and second in the discus (33.30m) and shot (9.39m).
Nick Butler had a nervous debut in the U17 high jump, finishing fourth with 1.50m, but in his favoured triple jump he smashed his PB with a winning jump of 12.73m.
U20 Jack Sumners won the long jump with a best ever season-opening jump of 7.09m but in the 110m he uncharacteristically hit three hurdles and finished third in 14.27.
Ollie Cresswell also hit hurdles – not uncommon in the first race of a season – and finished fourth with 14.55.
Mat Millward-Brookes had a promising start to the season, running a PB of 23.16 in the U17 200m and jumping 6.18m in the long jump.
Report by Paul Bearman.