Just seven members of Edinburgh University Athletics Club were in action at last week’s BUCS championships which featured some of the best talent from the UK’s universities and colleges.
Nevertheless Edinburgh scooped three medals in the process, courtesy of Che Richards, Anna Nelson, and Steph Pennycook. Other athletes to take part included German Moshes who ran a season’s best time of 56.39 seconds in the 400m, as well as Daniel Eriksson and Lydia Blythe representing Edinburgh in the men’s and women’s 1500m respectively.
The final athlete was Howard Bell who competed in both the long jump and high jump having represented Team GB junior at a multi events international in Prague. Despite having missed qualification for the final in both his events, Bell spread his abilities across the track and field disciplines in the decathlon and ranked third in the UK for the Under-20 age category in 2016.
The event was hosted by a livestream courtesy of Vinco Sport who did not provide a stream of the field events, so unfortunately Che Richards’ colossal leap of 7.63m in the long jump did not appear on Vinco’s website. With a wind reading of +3.7 meters per second the jump will not be officially recorded because it was outside of the legal limit of +2.0 meters per second.
Nonetheless Richards was more than happy with his performance. He posted on social media: “Silver ain’t GOLD! But it is when it comes with a new outdoor personal best of 7.63m (+3.7) and when you have to FIGHT for a spot in the second round. Thank you Lord for your mercies and blessings! Congrats to these two stars too!! [Anna Nelson and Steph Pennycook].”
Earlier this year Richards took the BUCS indoor long jump title in a new personal best of 7.64m. This time the competition was won by Daniel Gardiner whose winning performance of 7.69m was aided by a greater tailwind than Richards of 4.5m per second, so it was agonisingly close for gold in the end.
BUCS athlete Anna Nelson also expressed her delight on social media, posting: “Buzz buzz delighted with a BUCS Silver”.
In her heat, Nelson recorded a new personal best in the 400m hurdles of 60.93 seconds, shaving more than two tenths off her 2016 best. After having competed extensively indoors in the 400m, it was clear that Nelson’s speed over the distance had improved greatly.She took off almost a second and a half from her indoor 400m personal best this winter.
Having won the first round with considerable ease, it was clear that Nelson would be ready to go even faster in the final. It was not to be however, as the final was won by fellow Scot Mhairi Patience of Strathclyde University in a time of 58.69 seconds. On the homestraight Nelson had a look across, and could see Nessa Millet in hot pursuit but put in a gutsy last 100m to come through the finish line in second with a new lifetime best of 60.70 seconds.
The third satisfied athlete of the weekend was Steph Pennycook who also took to social media to say: “Bronze @ BUCS 1500m #bloodsweatntears #nearlyhitthedeck #naebreakfast #naefear.”
With three rounds of 1500m to contest, it was a true test of endurance for Pennycook with one of the commentators remarking at the start of the race: “I think we can narrow this one down possibly to a pretty scintillating head to head between Stephanie Pennycook and Mari Smith.”
It proved to be a battle between Pennycook’s 3000m and cross country endurance and Mari Smith’s 800m speed. The latter was able to pull away in the end, capitalising on the slow pace with Pennycook having to settle for bronze.
Both Pennycook and Smith were well outside of their personal best times, but as always with championships, the medals not the personal bests are the most important.
Image courtesy of Che Richards