There are few events on the athletics calendar more exciting than BUCS indoors, and for good reason: elite level performances, a booming atmosphere that even a hundred Dark Blue vuvuzelas would struggle to match, and a trip to the crown jewel of Northern England – Sheffield.
A slightly depleted team of only 15 Oxford athletes (16 if you count our honorary Brookes athlete) made the trip for the weekend, however this didn’t stop the Dark Blues from putting on a show, gaining 2 medals, reaching 4 finals, and putting in a host of promising performances.
On the Friday, our day began with the 60 metres, where Jake Watson cruised through his heat and was unlucky not to make the final, equaling his speedy PB of 6.92 seconds. In the ambulant 60m, Ewan had a strong run, clocking in just shy of his PB with 9.88 seconds. The 800m heats followed on the track, where Vice Captain Catherine, and Ella (despite being ill) breezed through their heats, with the semis to come on Saturday. In the field, Chimdi just missed out on the Shot Putt final after a solid performance, whilst Iris-Mae hopped, skipped and jumped to an indoor PB.
After the successes of the first day, the team had a wholesome evening meal at what was quickly deemed Sheffield’s finest Italian restaurant: Café Piazza. Several Bolognaises later, we returned to the comfort of the City Centre Premier Inn.
The following morning, we kicked things off with the 1500 metres on track, where Miles and Alex cruised through their respective heats, whilst Barrett came up just short. Over on the field, Vice-captain Adam and Ollie unfortunately struggled to make it into the final of the Long Jump, however Brookes boy Toby was able to secure himself a spot. Just adjacent to this, Ayman leapt to a massive 7cm PB in the High Jump at 1.88 metres, placing narrowly outside the 12 qualification spots.
In the afternoon, Christiana made her BUCS debut in the 3000 metres, and Charlotte ran strongly to sneak into the 400 metres semi-final. Alex demonstrated another front running masterclass to comfortably make the 1500 final, whilst Miles, despite confidently assuring us immediately after his race that he had ‘definitely got 4th place’, enough to secure the final, actually only clung on this position by a mere 0.01 seconds, nevertheless, by the skin of his teeth, was through. We finished off the day with the 4x200 relays, where the women assembled a mighty team of… cross country runners, taking on the likes of the Loughborough sprint squad, understandably coming up short.
The highlight of the day however came in the Pole Vault, where former captain Jake Watson was able to successfully defend his BUCS title with an astounding vault of 5.03 metres, capping off his strong indoor season after fully returning from injury. After another meal at the luxurious Café Piazza, those who hadn’t made their respective finals explored some of the finer amenities that Sheffield has to offer, whilst the rest of the squad stayed well rested for their big races tomorrow.
With the final day of races upon us, Adam and Catherine began the day with a cameo on BUCS TV, promoting all that OUAC has to offer, and drumming up enthusiasm for the finals later in the day. In the 400 semis, Charlotte run admirably, however was unlucky not to make the final later that day. The final events of OUAC interest were of course the 1500s, with Alex up first. With one of the gutsiest displays I’ve witnessed, Shipley took the opening laps out hard, quickly distancing herself and one another athlete from the rest of the pack. The bold strategy paid off, allowing her to cling on in the final few laps to achieve a terrific BUCS silver – the new altitude tent clearly working its magic. Miles followed in the men’s final, and ran a formidable race, however it was sadly not to be for Weatherseed, finishing just shy of the medals in 5th place.
All in all then, an extremely successful weekend all round for OUAC, and promise of a tremendous outdoor season to come.