Chorlton’s athlete Sarah McKeever pole vaulted to golden glory at the BUCS Nationals Championships in Sheffield on Sunday.
The Cardiff University athlete set a new personal best in the competition, breaking the four-metre barrier for the very first time and take her first BUCS gold medal.
BUCS Nationals, held across seven venues across the Steel City, is the largest annual multi-sport event in the country and saw more than 6,000 student athletes compete in nine sports over three action-packed days.
With the athletics held at the English Institute of Sport, the scene of frustrating defeat for McKeever just the week beforehand in the British Athletics Indoor Team Trials, the 21-year-old international relations and politics student was delighted to finally get her hands on gold.
“I came second in the last two years so to get gold I’m really happy,” said the former Loreto Grammar School pupil.
“I’ve been chasing four metres now for a year and every time I go for it and just miss it so to clear it on the third attempt and to win BUCS with that jump, I’m really pleased.
“Training’s been going really well, each competition I’ve done I’ve been really consistent.
“The weekend before at the British Championships I lost a medal on countback and I was absolutely gutted, so one thing this week was to clear bars first time – and I did that all the way up to four metres, including the jump to win it at 3.90m.”
BUCS Nationals, now in its fifth year, has provided a springboard for many a professional sporting career, and McKeever is determined to be the next in line.
With her father’s Irish heritage she is hoping to compete for the Emerald Isle at this summer’s European Under 23 Championships, and has the qualifying height in her sights, despite missing out on it this weekend.
“I want to take it one competition at a time, but I am trying to qualify for Ireland for the Under European 23s,” she added.
“I attempted the qualification mark of 4.06m here but I didn’t get it, I just want to keep pushing PBs and trying to hit 4.30 and get up there with some of the top athletes in the country.
“Making it to international competitions is the aim.”
But for now she will take being BUCS Nationals champion, with the pole vaulter revelling in her final appearance at the indoor athletics jamboree.
“It’s just such a fun weekend. It’s just so good to be up with the team. With pole vault you recognise a lot of the athletes and it’s such a high quality field. I can’t believe it’s my last one, I’m gutted really,” she admitted.
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. BUCS Nationals is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event, bringing over 6,000 athletes to Sheffield to compete in nine sports.