With the recent news that Loughborough once again stormed to the overall BUCS title, you may think that university sport interests cease until the new academic year kicks off. In fact, for some of the members of the Loughborough Students Athletics Club the summer months can be a vital time of the year.
Building on a year when the team were on an unbeaten run of 15 trophy wins from 15, the LSAC had eight athletes compete for Great Britain at the International Age Group Championships this month. Four competed at the European U23 Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, while four were at the European Junior (U20) Championships in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
At the European U23 Championships, the Nick Dakin coached trio of Nathan Woodward, Meghan Beesley and Niall Flannery came away with silver medal, bronze medal and 8th place positions respectively in the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles.
Woodward (pictured), who is currently ranked number one in Europe at U23 level, looked imperious in winning his heat and semi final and if were not for almost falling after hitting the tenth and final hurdle, would have surely secured the gold. His silver medal was the first international medal of his career.
Beesley on the other hand, continued to add to her growing international medal collection (including a World Junior bronze), by taking bronze in the 400m hurdles with a massive new personal best of 55.69 seconds. This was her first time under the 56 seconds barrier.
Stevie Stockton, LSAC’s fourth representative in Ostrava, overcame the hot conditions to take an impressive bronze medal in the women’s 5000m, an outstanding achievement in only her 2nd race ever at the distance.
It was the turn of LSAC’s juniors next to pull on the GB vest in Tallinn at the European Junior Championships.
Firstly, female Scottish Junior hammer record holder Myra Perkins, failed to progress past qualifying after falling over in her final attempt throw. A PB would’ve seen her finish 4th in the final.
Next up was Scottish Indoor 800m record holder Guy Learmonth, who was competing for GB for the first time. He progressed to the semis of the 800m, where tactically he didn’t get his race quite right and found himself out of the qualifying positions for the final. Learmoth will be pleased to have made championships a couple of tough months recovering from a series of injuries.
Richard Shuttleworth was the 2nd LSAC male representative in Estonia in the javelin, finishing 11th in the final, throwing just down on his PB in his first GB representation.
Last of the LSAC GB representatives was Lucy James. After finishing 7th in the final of the 400m in a slightly disappointing time by her standards, she bounced back to play an integral part in the GB 4x400m relay team that won gold in one of the most exciting races of the championships. Running 2nd leg in the final, Lucy’s timing, speed and ultimately strength in the final 100m put GB in the lead after two legs after only receiving the baton in 4th place.
With just one year to go before London 2012, it is a very exciting time for the LSAC who will be aiming to compete at the London Olympic Stadium in the BUCS Championships in May next year.