The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games officially kick off tomorrow and we are incredibly proud that over 100 athletes and alumni from BUCS will be competing. Despite the challenges faced by university sport in the last year, these selections are a perfect reminder of what an important pathway university sport provides to elite sport. From swimming to fencing, pole vault to judo, and rifle shooting to rowing, we can’t wait to see BUCS athletes and alumni shine at the Games.
In the Team GB hockey team, an impressive 89% of the men and women's squad have come through the BUCS performance pathway, including shortlisted 2021 BUCS Sportswoman of the Year - Durham athlete Fiona Crackles. The BUCS men’s hockey programme and BUCS and ICG women’s hockey programme has also produced other stars such as the University of Nottingham’s James Gall, Jacob Draper from Swansea University and current Loughborough University student Izzy Petter who will make her Olympic Games debut.
Over in the pool, a fantastic 21 swimmers selected for Team GB made their mark in BUCS competitions - including 11 long course and six short course record holders. Some of those swimmers include two-time BUCS Sportsman of the Year Duncan Scott from the University of Stirling and Loughborough University’s Alice Dearing who will be the first black swimmer to represent Team GB at the Olympics.
Crossing back to track and field, there are over 26 BUCS athletes and alumni representing Team GB, with the majority being the shining stars of previous university championships over the years. Middlesex University's CJ Ujah will be representing the nation in the men’s 100m, University of Bristol star Jazmin Sawyers - twice BUCS Outdoor champion - will be competing in the long jump, and Harry Coppell from Liverpool John Moores University will be going for gold in the pole vault.
Fresh from the boats of our own Regatta, there are 24 BUCS athletes and alumni selected for the GB Rowing Team. Featuring across a range of disciplines, these include BUCS Award winner Dr Polly Swann from the University of Edinburgh, competing in the women’s coxless doubles, Graeme Thomas from the University of Manchester representing in the men’s quadruple sculls and the University of Cambridge’s Imogen Grant competing in the women’s lightweight double sculls.
It’s clear the university sector has talent beyond just athletes; coaches, physios and other support staff are heading to Tokyo too. Loughborough University graduates Danny Kerry MBE and David Ralph will be coaching the men’s hockey squad, Pete Mitchell, Dr Andrew Murray and Dr Alistair Nicol from Edinburgh University will be a part of the crucial athlete support team and fellow Edinburgh colleague Hamish Burrel is a coach on the GB rowing team.
Whilst our minds are firmly on success at Tokyo, the sheer quantity and quality of university talent has us very excited for the World University Games next year, where Team GB’s delegation have dominated in the past and expected to be strong medal hopefuls in 2022. Alicia Lauckner, International Performance Manager at BUCS said “We are proud to have played a part in the incredible journey of these Tokyo Olympians. This makes us confident that BUCS is a springboard for success and that the strength and depth of performance pathways and competitions in place are already developing some of Team GB’s future Olympians for Paris, LA and Brisbane.”
We wish the very best of luck to every single one of our current athletes and alumni competing. The stadium crowds might not be there, but the nation and the whole BUCS community will be cheering you on louder than ever back home.
[Image credit: Team GB]