“A promising future with a grand finale – EUAC raise the bar for BUCS Outdoors”.
On the first weekend of May, the Exeter University Athletics Club participated in the British Universities and Colleges Outdoor Athletics Championships at the Bedford International Athletics Track. On the same track that will be used to select Team GB’s athletes for Rio 2016, and up against a number of Olympic hopefuls, EUAC gave a strong account of themselves as they competed over a full range of track and field events.
For some, the weekend was an opportunity to lay foundations for future success and justify a rigorous season of training. For others, it was a last chance to don the white and green of Exeter, and cement their legacies as icons of EUAC. Success in heats came immediately on Saturday in the form of Club Captain Steph McCall, middle-distance virtuoso Joe Saissi and debutants Nicole Kendall and Matt Blandford, the first two running tactically astute races to secure their places in the semi-finals, Matt requiring only one discus throw to qualify for Sunday’s final. Matt then added to his busy schedule, launching a javelin 53.88m to qualify for the Men’s final. Track and Field Captain Chris Churcher watched the fruits of his inspirational leadership unfold in front of him, as white vests scorched the track and excelled in the field. The tone set for the weekend with injury averted, EUAC readied themselves for heightened standards of competition on Sunday.
The weather dictated the nature of Day Two’s competition. Through hammer wind and tumbling rain, EUAC fought to maintain the standards they had set, with Joe Saissi’s fine performance and spectacular final lap, proving just a fraction short of the time needed to progress to the 800m final. Blandford too met with resistance from the elements, and will return next year even more determined to convert his exceptional talent and trophy-laden past into BUCS glory. Steph McCall, however, successfully conquered the hazardous weather and set a barnstorming 4:37.84 to qualify for the 1500m final, duly breaking the Club Record in the process. Nicole too made EUAC history, breaking the 400m record in 57.03 to round off an exceptional first season with the Club Three impeccably delivered relay performances from the boys and girls capped off an excellent Saturday, with incoming Club Captain Nick Logan and Molly Jéhan deserving special credit, as they sacrificed their bodies for the cause in the 4x400m distance so unfamiliar to them.
Monday came, and with our active participants whittled down to just two in the form of Steph and Matt, the remainder of the team rallied behind them from the stands, raucous in their support. Matt threw 48.94m in tough conditions before Steph took to the line for her final race in Exeter colours. Three years of habitual victory and awe-inspiring leadership were summed up perfectly in a spellbinding performance that will live long in the memory of Exeter athletes who were present to witness it. A Club Record that had lived for barely a day was gloriously shattered, as Steph resisted pressure from quality opposition to post a time of 4:31.19, finishing in eighth and securing a BUCS point in the process.
Asked for her thoughts, Steph said that, “the weekend was a perfect way to conclude three fantastic years with EUAC; with so much talent and many promising performances, the future looks bright for our athletes”. An exciting future founded upon present success, EUAC retired from the weekend with their heads held high, eagerly looking to the coming season.