Following the overwhelming success of the Olympics, BUCS athletes and alumni have once again shone on the international stage at the Paralympics. A total of 35 medals have been won, including 18 gold medals, meaning BUCS would’ve finished in 9th place if it was a country - an incredible achievement from everyone involved.
In the university medal table, Loughborough University topped the table with an impressive five medals, including three gold. Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of East Anglia completed the top three, but this must not overshadow the 16 universities who played a part in our Paralympians’ medal success.
Just like the Olympics, our Paralympians were unstoppable in the pool. From the BUCS and Speedo Swimming Championships, to the international stage, the likes of Jordan Catchpole, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Hannah Russell, Tully Kearney, Taka Suzuki and Grace Harvey collectively claimed 13 medals.
The strength and depth of our athletes’ talent was in the sheer number of those who won multiple medals. The first of those, Tully Kearney (Manchester Metropolitan University) took silver in the S5 200m freestyle and then went one better a day later taking gold in the S5 100m freestyle. Multi-sport athlete (and previous BUCS champion) Kadeena Cox completed a golden track cycling double in the Women’s C4-5 500m time-trial and the mixed C1-5 750m team sprint.
Northumbria University’s Taka Suzuki won an incredible five medals from five events in the pool at his home Games, claiming a gold, two silvers and two bronze for Japan. The University of Edinburgh‘s Stephen Clegg also showed his talent, taking home one silver and two bronze. It would be impossible not to mention Hannah Cockroft; our triple BUCS champion and Coventry University alumni came away with two gold medals and one world record.
Athletes from Loughborough University - Thomas Young and Sophie Hahn - went from being BUCS champions to Paralympic champions in the men’s and women’s 100m.
Ali Jawad has been a household name in the Paralympics GB team for a number of years since starting para powerlifting at the age of 16. Ali was born without legs and emigrated from Lebanon to Great Britain with his family, and has been open about his struggle with Crohn’s disease over the last few years. Despite all of this, the former Leeds Beckett University and current University of Birmingham student has never looked back, and inspired us all after finishing sixth in the 59kg para powerlifting in his fourth Paralympics.
Laura Sugar has had quite the journey to becoming Paralympic champion in Tokyo. Laura was born with a club foot which left her with no movement in her ankle but that didn’t stop her from having a successful hockey career at the University of Leeds, and most notably captaining Wales at U20 level. Before paracanoe, she competed as a track athlete at Rio 2016 and at BUCS Championships in 2016. Laura capped off her journey with gold in KL3 paracanoe at this year’s Paralympics.
One of the greatest Paralympic swimmers of this generation over 64 national and international medals, Ellie Simmonds has decided that Tokyo 2020 will be her last Games. She has been an incredible inspiration to all including double Paralympics champion at Tokyo 2020 Maisie Summers-Newton.
Vince Mayne, BUCS CEO, commented on the achievements of the last two weeks: “We are beyond proud of the all the BUCS athletes and alumni who have competed out in Tokyo. The Paralympics have once again shown that disability does not have to be a barrier for sports participation, and higher education sport now has a part to play in maintaining the momentum of the Games and disability sport. With 34 medals won, from 16 different universities, Tokyo 2020 has demonstrated the strength and depth that university disability sport holds, and we look forward to increasing our para sport offering over the next year to build on the legacy that these athletes have created.
We’d like to thank you all for following our #BUCSTakesOnTokyo campaign, and cheering all our Olympic and Paralympic athletes on over this inspiring summer of sport. Here’s to the 2021-22 BUCS season, and seeing future Olympic and Paralympic athletes shine on the pitch, court and pool.”