Last weekend in Chelmsford, the BUCS outdoor championships took place. With universities across the country bringing their best athletes together, it was set to be a fantastic event. It did not disappoint. With so many great moments from the weekend, it is very hard to choose just three, but these are my top moments.
Zakariya Mahamed Wins Gold in the 5,000m
A BUCS cross country silver medalist, Zakariya Mahamed was not a complete outsider for a BUCS outdoors medal. However, as his personal best was not posted in time for the competition deadline, he was placed in the B race at Chelmsford. Running alone for the vast majority of the race, he powered his way to a 14:15.39 clocking.
The A race was stacked. Birmingham’s Michael Ward, Loughborough’s Luke Duffy and Sheffield’s Alfie Manthorpe were just some of the big names lacing up for the event. Treating it as a finals race, however, the field went off to a very slow start, locking in for a tactical affair.
Heads began to turn as the pack were a huge 23 seconds behind the pace of Mahamed set in the previous race, with just two kilometres to make up the ground. As the laps ticked down, the leading group of the A race wound up the pace. After a scintillating sprint finish, it was Luke Duffy who came through at the front of the pack to win the race. However, the clock showed him at 14:18.81 seconds. Murmurs began circulating around the track until it was officially confirmed that the stacked A race had not been able to beat the time set by Mahamed in the B race.
This meant that it was Mahamed who topped the podium and took home a gold medal. The last time an athlete had won from the B race was Jess Judd back in 2012, showing how rare this case is. As the first event of the final day of BUCS outdoors, it set a great precedent for the events to come, and was certainly an upset to remember.
Loughborough 4x400m squad break the Championship Record
It was a reasonably common assumption that Loughborough would take gold in the 4x400m relay at BUCS outdoors. A real powerhouse of athletic, the African Violets had some of the best runners in the country at their disposal for the last event of the championships. What some perhaps did not expect was that they would smash the Championship Record.
The squad of Charlie Dobson, Alex Haydock-Wilson, Chris O’Donnell and Ben Higgins blew the competition out of the water. Dobson and Haydock-Wilson were ranked first and third in the UK last year, and Ben Higgins is the current British Champion over the 400m.
The squad ran a mind-bending 3:05.11 clocking, beating the previous championship record by five seconds. They also won the gold medal by a huge ten second margin, demonstrating their absolute dominance in this event. The atmosphere for the relays is always fantastic, and to be able to witness such dominance made it one of the moments of the weekend.
Thomas Young Wins the Ambulant 100m and 200m
A true role model, I picked Thomas Young as one of the three athletes set to dominate at the championships. He delivered. A Tokyo gold medalist, the athlete out of Loughborough is dominating the para-athletics scene in the UK, and displayed this dominance throughout the weekend.
Winning the 100m on Saturday was a great way for him to open his campaign at BUCS outdoors 2022, beating his fellow Loughborough student Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker to the gold medal. It was his 200m, however, that was truly impressive. Winning by a clear margin, he ran a personal best of 23.08 seconds. This ranks him in the top 300 athletes in the country over this distance, and the fact that he is a para-athlete makes this hugely impressive. The fact that he ran a personal best time in the final of a championship also shows his ability to pull out big performances where it really matters.
Young continues to be a shining light in the athletics scene in the UK, and undoubtedly has more to come both this season and in the future.