By Ollie Godden
The mid-Easter songbirds had started to sing, and this can only mean one thing: the BUCS Outdoor Championships 2017 was back again at Bedford International Stadium. Held over a three-day period (29/04/2017 to 01/05/2017), the championship sees the brightest athletic talents in the county pit themselves against each other in a bid for medal glory. Athletics captain Will Richie-Moulin claimed Durham’s headlines after a terrific performance saw him claim bronze in the 100m Hurdles.
Rachel Highfield was the first athlete to compete in the championship, and her 100m time of 12.24 seconds was enough to see her qualify for the semi-final the following day. Philippa Stone, too, breezed into the semi-final for the 1500m, winning her heat with a time of 4:55.85.
Christopher Walker and Will-Richie Moulin qualified to the semi-finals of 100m, both running impressive times of 11.08 and 11.09 respectively. More qualification success came when Jason Hoyle and Robert Shipley eased through the 400m heats, while Joe Armstrong breezed through his 1500m heats with a time of 4:04.67.
Sadly, Mary Gough failed to qualify for the 800m semi-final, just missing out with a time of 2:39.20, while both Eleanor Arnfield and Rachel Scott were unable to qualify for 400m hurdles semi-finals against a very strong field.
Lucy Oldroyd and Rachel Ryan missed out on qualification in the long jump and triple jump respectively, whilst Alessandra Stevens competed in the first finals of the championships, placing a respectable 5th in the hammer, with a distance of 32.90m
Rachel Highfield continued her impressive form as she qualified for the finals of the 100m, despite a slightly slower time of 12.54. She fell short in the final, however, clocking 12.74s to see her place 8th in the final, a fantastic effort nonetheless.
In the middle distance, Philippa Stone qualified as a winner in the 1500m semi-final, whilst Gabi Burton cruised through her 100m hurdles heat. Robert Shipley also landed himself a spot in a final, this time in the 400m, with a qualifying time of 47.52.
Will Richie-Moulin and DUAXC President Maranga Mokaya both saw themselves through to the semi-finals of their preferred event, the 100m hurdles.
Relays began on day two, and Durham found contrasting fortunes as the women’s 4x400m team missed out on qualification, while the men’s 4x400m qualified as fastest losers.
There was disappointment for Christopher Walker who did not qualify for either the 100m final, or the 200m semi-final, with the same fate befalling Will Richie-Moulin in the shorter distance. Meanwhile, Jason Hoyle and Joe Armstrong, too, were unable to qualify for the 400m and 1500m finals.
Reece Straker was the sole field athlete for Durham on the second day, competing in the men’s hammer. With a credible throw of 42.96m, Straker placed 8th in the final.
Gabi Burton was the first to compete on day three, just missing out on qualification from the semi-final of the 100m hurdles.
This said, Durham were still in six finals on the final day, with Robert Shipley the first to compete in the 400m. Shipley placed 6th and earned Durham some rare individual BUCS points. Next was Julie Emmerson in the first section of the 5000m finals. Despite placing fourth in her section, Emmerson fell cruel to second-section advantage as a much quicker race saw her finish outside the top ten.
Will Richie-Moulin and Maranga Mokaya were next up in the 100m Hurdles. In a close battled, Richie-Moulin edged out Mokaya to third place and bronze medal, as the pair secured a third/fourth double for Durham.
Philippa Stone finished a well ran 1500m final in 6th place, with a time of 4:32.58.
Sadly, in the last events of the championships, the men’s 4x400m team were disqualified.
Photograph: Team Durham