Saturday the 27th of May saw the final event in the London Universities and Colleges Athletics (LUCA) outdoors championship take place. The series of three athletics meets between the London universities had previously visited St. Mary’s and Woodford athletics tracks, and the destination for the final was Battersea’s Millennium Arena.
The warm but windy day began with a 1-2 for Imperial in an excellent women’s 1500m led home by Kate Olding in a time of 4:57.16, closely followed by Sarah Johnson in 5:03.29 and Ophélie Meuriot finishing 5th in 6:11.17.
The men’s race saw some good performances too, with Fergus Johnson (4:54.13) and Duncan Hunter (4:58.90) competing in the first heat, and Duncan Ingram (5:01.51) and Lawrence Tse (5:48.01) running in the second.
Meanwhile, five Imperial athletes competed in the long jump; David Fong leapt 5.94m – enough to finish 2nd on the day – with multi-eventer Hunter jumping 4.49m and Jack McKeon 4.22m. In the women’s event, Zhen Wang-Koh flew 2.99m and Meuriot reached 2.84m shortly after her 1500m. Wang-Koh later went on to clear 1.20m in the high jump.
In the 100m sprints, Imperial’s Paul Guillon ran 12.83, with Stefan Renstrom finishing in a rapid 12.21, and Hunter running an impressive 13.07 after his 1500m and long jump. Hunter and Guillon then went on to run the 200m in times of 26.86 and 26.01 respectively. Not satisfied with two sprint events, Guillon next ran the notoriously difficult 400m to post an impressive 56.20.
In the even more difficult women’s 400m hurdles, Jenny Lea ran 1:36.16, despite having never jumped over a hurdle before! She also hopped, skipped and jumped valiantly in the triple jump.
With the sun beating down on the Battersea track, a water station was set up for the longest event of the day – the 5000m. In her third of six events, Ophélie Meuriot finished strongly to run 23:55.77, just ahead of Catherine Spurin’s 24:14.17.
In the men’s event, McKeon posted a new personal best of 18:04.92 despite the heat, gusts on the back straight of the track, and suspect water delivery from his teammates.
McKeon then went on to compete in the 800m, running 2:28.71, just behind Duncan Ingram’s 2:27.58, finishing 3rd and 2nd respectively in the second heat. Imperial’s future athletics captain Max Thorp earlier posted a speedy 2:10.46 to finish 5th in the first heat.
In the women’s 800m, women’s captain Alex Mundell ran extremely well to finish 3rd in 2:24.16.
Next was the turn of the spectators’ favourite – the steeplechase. This event involves hurdling five large barriers (91.4cm for men) per lap over two or three km, with water jumps to contend with each lap too. A crowd typically gather around the water jump, with plenty of splashes and tumbles occurring during each race. Representing Imperial in the men’s race was Duncan Ingram, who went on to finish in 12:31.00 after a surge in pace on the penultimate lap to ensure he was not lapped by the eventual winner!
Over in the field events, Athletics Captain Raul Rinken came 2nd in the shot put, throwing 10.47m, while James Davis reached 7.70m and multi-eventer Ingram threw 5.86m. Davis and Ingram also competed in the javelin, with throws of 26.81m and 20.04m respectively. Davis also entered the discus, throwing 17.69m, while Rinken won the event by over 7m with a huge throw of 36.38m.
In the women’s events Liv Papaioannou came 5th in shot put with 7.21m, ahead of Mundell with 5.79m. Both Papaioannou and Mundell also threw the javelin along with Meuriot, with Papaioannou finishing 3rd with 23.91m, ahead of Mundell’s 15.88m, and Meuriot’s 8.50m. Meuriot’s final event was the discus, in which she threw 9.45m.
Some of the most exciting races of the day were the relay races. Imperial’s 4x100m teams finished in 48.84 and 63.82, and the men’s 4x400m team came home in 4:19.19.
In the medley relay, a special event which has 200m, 400m and 800m legs and both men and women competing in one event, Imperial assembled a strong team enough team to podium; finishing 3rd in 7:49.55.
As the event was the 3rd and final meet of the series, medals were presented for the highest points scored in each discipline over the course of the championship. Overall, bronze medals went to Women’s Captain Alex Mundell for 800m and our medley relay team, silver medals to next year’s Athletics Captain Max Thorp for 800m, Liv Papaioannou for javelin, David Fong for long jump, and Athletics Captain Raul Rinken for shotput and gold medals to Kate Olding for the 1500m and Raul for discus.
In the final standings, Imperial managed a respectable 4th place out of all the competing universities and colleges, behind UCL, King’s and LSE. Special thanks go to Imperial’s Matt Douthwaite and Shiv Patel for all their hard work and dedication in organising the championships.