Sprinting ahead of the competition
When we last met with the Glasgow University Athletics Club (GUAC) last October, the club’s committee discussed their optimism for the season ahead. Another season unbeaten in Scottish competition was the priority, a BUCS medal the target.
Fast forward four months and the positive outlook remains. As predicted the new crop of young athletes have begun to excel at university level whilst the hard work put in at the start of the season seems to be paying off with the club enjoying a record number of new members.
The annual Freshers’ Match in October offered the first inclination that the club were onto something special this season. Facing other Scottish universities and competing against Edinburgh for the Appleton Trophy, GUAC produced one of their biggest victories in recent years at the Emirates Arena, their 18th successive victory at a Scottish Universities’ event.
Athletes standing out that day included Inverness-based Daniel MacFarlane, a multi eventer competing across a range of disciplines and Josie MacDonald who stormed to victory in the women’s 400m. Meanwhile, the success of the relay teams for both the 4x200m and 4x400m proved that there is real strength in depth across the squad.
With the Scottish Uni Indoor Championships having taken place last weekend, attention is now focused onto the British stage where athletics forms part of the BUCS Nationals weekend in Sheffield. Leading Glasgow’s hunt for a medal will be Scottish 400m champion Krishawn Aiken who will be out to improve on his narrow semi-final loss in the same competition last year.
Also looking to impress will be 3000m runner Annabel Simpson. In what will be her first track race of 2018 following appearances for the Scottish cross country team in international competition. In what is expected to be an experienced field, pushing for a medal will be challenging although certainly remains a possibility.
Off the track has probably been the focal point for growth this season. For the first time club membership broke the 100 member barrier with many more signing up each week. This member base is more diverse than ever as the club welcomes more athletes beginning their journey in the sport, whether they have the aim of competition medals or simply improved fitness.
Likewise, GUAC has now successfully affiliated with Scottish Athletics, the sport’s national governing body. As well as offering support in areas such as athlete welfare and reduced competition fees, the new link has allowed club members to attend the coaching assistant course, helping make sure all athletes receive the time and attention required from qualified coaches.
Looking ahead and a calendar highlight is always warm weather training, this year taking place in Tenerife at the end of the semester. Although athletes will certainly make the most of the week to relax in a social environment, the relocation to Tenerife this year allows all those attending to train at some top class facilities with some of the world’s best often making the most of the climate to train here throughout the year.
Before that however there is the small matter of the Glasgow Taxis Cup. Last year GUAC barely scrapped into pole position after a dropped baton in the 4x100m relay put at risk the performances already produced in the cut-down competition. This year the club will certainly hope to retain their title without making the contest more difficult for themselves.
With over a month to go, selection has yet to be made although this is almost certainly going to be one of the toughest ever decisions for this year’s captains, Ross Fraser and Ana Bacallado. With only two places in an already limited field of events, deciding on the right group of athletes will be a challenging process.
Athletes hoping for success in the competition will include sprinter Aimee McGinley who is looking to return to the form that saw her medal in the Scottish U20 championships in 2016. Current U20 North District Champion over 1500m Finlay Todd meanwhile will certainly be considering dropping down to the 800m to race against the best Strathclyde and Glasgow Caley have to offer.
The start of the season saw a cautious optimism radiate from the club committee. Midway through and with proven strides being made both on and off the track, there is certainly reason to believe that there is far more to come from GUAC as the season progresses.