Brunel’s athletics team enjoyed a medal bonanza at a sun-kissed Bedford International Stadium over the May Day bank holiday weekend. They competed in the event that serves as the prelude to the UK domestic outdoor season – the British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Athletics Championships.
The Brunelians took full advantage of the fine conditions to come second in the men’s competition, third in the women’s, and a comfortable second overall (among 110 institutions) with 144 points. The haul of 15 medals was the most impressive in over 20 years, when the team were based at Borough Road College in Isleworth, one of Brunel’s predecessor institutions.
Perhaps the athlete of the championships was Brunel’s Marvin Popoola. The mild-mannered sprinter opened his BUCS campaign with a rapid 10.67 secs in the 100-metre heats and went on to clock 10.68 secs in the final, which he won with consummate ease. His powerful limbs withstood the qualification rounds of the longer sprint and, on the final day of competition, Popoola added a second gold to his cache. Another in-form sprinter was the uber-focused Amar-Mazigh Aichou, competing over 100 and 200 metres in the T38 category. Fresh from representing England at the Commonwealth Games, the Sports Scholar clinched a silver in the shorter sprint (12.27 secs) and went one better over 200 metres (24.81 secs). Sports Scholar Osaze Aghedo bounded to gold in the triple jump (15.08 m), reaching the stellar distance of 15.14 m during the preliminary rounds. The leading female athlete for Brunel was Sports Scholar Amy Holder who re-emerged from a year in the BUCS wilderness to add a gold medal to the one she claimed as a first-year student back in 2016. Holder was the only athlete to exceed the magical 50-metre barrier with a massive winning throw of 50.53 m. Notably, all of the gold-medallists are reading for degrees in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences.
Final-year Psychology student and Sports Scholar Philippa Bowden contested the 5000 metres where she went head-to-head with Loughborough’s star distance runner, GB international Jessica Judd. Bowden posted a gutsy performance and came in just behind Judd to win a silver in 16:18.77 mins – a respectable time given the sluggish early pace. Final-year physiotherapy student and Sports Scholar Kai Jones claimed his fifth BUCS medal in the shot put. This time he had to settle for silver with a distance of 14.95 m. Joining Jones on the second tier of the winners’ podium was pole vaulter Joseph Lister who endured a long period in the midday sun before clearing a height of 4.75 m that earned him the silver medal.
On the women’s team, bronze medals were won by captain Emma Nwofor in the long jump (5.99 m), debutante Kayanna Reid in the triple jump (12.60 m), and the 4 x 100-metre relay quartet of Modupe Shokunbi, Parris Johnson, Darcey Kuypers and Izzy Bryant (47.66 secs). On the men’s team, bronze medals were awarded to Thomas Head in the hammer (63.15 m), Luke Dorrell in the 100 metres (10.80 s) and James McMurray in the 1500 metres (3:51.34 mins).
Well done to everyone who took part and congratulations on achieving 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 6 Bronze medals.