Scholars Stun During Action-Packed Weekend
Whilst the majority of us are winding down for Christmas, our incredible University performance athletes continue to compete and succeed, both on international and domestic stages.
The weekend of 9-10 December especially saw a huge number of UoB student-athletes shine, spearheaded by third year Mechanical Engineering student and Elite Scholar Will Barnicoat.
Will (pictured above and on the left below, credit: Clay Shaw 2023) produced a perfectly executed race through the mud at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels to claim his second consecutive title and significantly contribute to British Athletics’ most successful outing at the event ever, despite moving up an age category.
Will said: “It feels surreal to have claimed a gold medal in a new age category, I honestly couldn’t believe it when I crossed the line. It feels great to have set it in stone that I can turn up to major events and collect medals on a regular basis.”
“My preparation in the lead up to the race was great and the UoB EDCAP scholarship programme has played a key role in my progression and success throughout. From S+C and Physiotherapy to Performance Lifestyle and Nutrition, it’s really helped me get to where I am now.”
In addition to Will’s individual gold, all four of the UoB representatives (Tomer Tarragano, Amelia Quirk (pictured left) and Zoe Hunter) came home with a Team Gold in the U23 Men’s, Senior Women’s and U20 Women’s categories respectively.
This can only mean extremely exciting things ahead of the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Cross Country Championships in February 2024, where the UoB Athletics Club will be looking to retain their Women’s Team title and go one better than their Men’s Team Silver from 2023.
On the other side of Europe in Bucharest, the British Swimming team – featuring triple British Champion Ollie Morgan – made history at the European Short Course Championships, as they finished top of the medal table for the first time.
Coached by the University’s very own Head of Swimming Gary Humpage, Ollie added to British Swimming’s impressive medal tally by claiming his first international medal – and the first of its kind for the University too – in the 4×50 Medley Relay, where the Great Britain team finished second.
With the addition of making the final of the 50m Backstroke and only narrowly missing out on spots in both the 100 and 200 finals, as well as continuing to improve on his personal best times across all three distances, the event provided a fitting conclusion to an absolutely phenomenal year of performances and progression for Ollie.
Ollie says: “It was amazing to be a part of another medley relay team, this time at a short course competition, which isn’t the strongest part of my competitive season. I was able to pull off a great swim and it fills me with pride to be a part of a record-breaking British Swimming team, as well as to get my hands on my first piece of international silverware!”
Whilst Ollie awaits the results of his nominations for the 2023 Propulsion Swimming ‘British Breakthrough Swimmer’ and ‘Most Improved British Swimmer’ awards, we already can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for him!
University Elite Scholars Evie Wood (pictured below left) and Alice Atkinson competed for England at the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup in Chile, where they narrowly missed out on retaining their place on the podium from 2022. The team placed 4th after losing to Germany in the bronze medal match.
The University of Birmingham’s affiliation to success on the international hockey stage remains as strong as ever, as honourable mentions must also go to current Social Policy student and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lily Walker, who despite being selected to play alongside Evie and Alice at the Junior World Cup, instead played in Argentina as part of the Great Britain Senior Women’s squad in the first round of the 2023-24 FIH Pro League.
Lily played alongside alumna Lily Owsley (pictured below right) who achieved her 100th GB Cap during the series – a phenomenal feat for the 29-year old UoB Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences graduate. The Argentina Pro League also saw fellow alumnus Nick Bandurak achieve his 50th combined cap.
Medals and podium places were also won on the domestic stages across the same weekend by a handful of the University’s high-performing student-athletes.
At the BUCS Individual Squash Championships, the University of Birmingham and its Squash Club were delighted to have 2 atop the men’s podium. Moustafa El Sirty (below left) claimed his debut BUCS title after producing quite the comeback in the final, whilst Will Salter (below right) emphatically won the bronze medal. Hana Ismail placed a fine fourth in the Women’s competition.
Fellow scholar and last year’s BUCS Individuals champion Elliot Morris-Devred was absent from the tournament as he competes for Wales at the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championships, currently ongoing in Tauranga, New Zealand. Wales have currently qualified top of their group for the quarter finals after commanding victories against the host nation, Republic of Korea and, most recently, Czech Republic.
We had three scholarship representatives present at the British Senior and Junior Judo Championships, all of whom came away with medals.
First year Biological Sciences student Summer Shaw (pictured second from the left below) was crowned the champion in both the junior and senior -48kg competitions, whilst fellow scholars Lachlan Moorhead and Ben Levy won the silver medals in the senior -81kg and junior -73kg categories respectively.
To conclude an incredible array of performances and results from just one single weekend, at the British Rowing Indoor Championships – an event that was hosted in Birmingham in conjunction with FitFest 2023 and saw numerous British and World Rowing Records broken – the University’s very own Katie Mole made the home crowd proud as she claimed the Women’s 2000m gold.
After such a high volume of success in a relatively short amount of time, recognition and applause must go not only to the athletes themselves, but their coaches and the University practitioners and personnel that provide tailored and unwavering support throughout all aspects of our student-athletes’ lives.