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From the 19th to the 30th of August, a team of 163 British athletes and staff competed in the summer Universiade, one of the largest sporting competitions in the world.

The first games were held in 1923, however the introduction of the term Universiade wasn’t until the 1959 games as a combination of “university” and “Olympiad”.

Also known as the World University Games, the competition comprises of 14 compulsory sports and three which are selected by the host, which this year was Taipei, Taiwan. It was a successful trip for Team GB, in some very testing weather conditions that pushed our athletes to their limit, yet they returned home with 9 medals, 3 silver and 6 bronze.

The first British medal of the Games was in the pool, with Jay Lelliot grabbing a silver in the men’s 400m freestyle with a time of 3:48:88. He was disappointed to not take home the gold, beaten by a Universiade record posted by Mykhailo Romanchuk of 3:45:96. That was followed up by a brilliant swim from Rachael Kelly, who narrowly missed out on the medals in the 50m butterfly by a tiny margin of 0.02 seconds!

Continuing the good form in the water, Joe Litchfield competed in the 200m medley. He finished with a time of 1:59:36, not only securing a bronze medal but also a place in next year’s Commonwealth games! Lelliot then swam again the in 1500m final, finishing in 5th place but also qualifying with Litchfield for next year’s competition.

Day four of the Games saw some seriously difficult conditions in the women’s 10,000m with temperatures averaging 32 degrees and humidity around 87%, it didn’t make for easy running and some of the athletes suffered heat exhaustion. Given that, Jenny Nesbitt’s 5th place finish with a time of 31:01:34 was a great achievement, with Louise Small not too far behind her in 10th.

Jay Lelliot bowed out with his last ever Universiade race on day five, the University of Bath graduate finished a respectable 5th in the 800m freestyle. The pool was still the place to be however, as Rachael Kelly came back fighting to win a bronze medal in the 50m butterfly, with an excellent time of 58.90. The following day, Olympic swimmer Camilla Hathersley battled hard in a really tough 800m freestyle race that saw two athletes break the Games record, she swam a season’s best time of 8:32:84 to finish in 5th place.

Out of the pool and onto the track, day six saw another bronze medal for Team GB, Jonny Davies winning the 1500m with a time of 2:43:99. Four other finalists also took to the stage with brilliant performances and near misses for the podium, London 2017 competitor Adelle Tracey finishing 4th in the 800m and Allan Smith coming 4th in the high jump with a height of 2.23m. The day finished with another medal, this time in the weightlifting with Mercy Brown beating her PB to lift 134kg in the clean and jerk, then raise her game again to 136kg, which when combined with the 98kg snatch gave her a 234kg total to take the bronze medal.

Day eight saw the weather take a turn for the worst, with thunderstorms forcing the golfers off the course early, as a result, team GB’s final day progress was thwarted, with the scores taken from the end of day three of the competition. Chloe Goadby finished 6th in the individuals, making her the leading European in the competition, the team finished a respectable 11th. On the track, the women’s 5000m made for exciting viewing, with Jess Judd taking the bronze medal with a time of 15:51:19 and Louise Small right behind her in 4th position. In the field, Amelia Strickler threw a lifetime personal best in the shot putt of 17.13m landing her in 6th position. Meanwhile, on the tennis court, Emily Arbuthnott and Olivia Nicholls won a bronze medal in the women’s doubles. The girls lost the first set, then pulled it back but missed out on the tie break.

Jonny Davies was back racing on day nine in the men’s 5000m, claiming his second medal of the Games with a silver. Jack Findel-Hawkins and Luke Johnson returned to the court after dispatching the number one seeds in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 to progress to the final. They took on Russia, losing the first set 6-1, then coming back to win the second set 3-6, forced a tie break but narrowly lost out, coming away with a silver medal.

After some very tough challenges there has been a lot of valuable experience gained and much success for the Team GB athletes. The next Universiade will be in Naples in 2019, however we’ll see some of them in action again at the Commonwealth Games next year, so watch this space. In the meantime there will be plenty of opportunity to get behind our athletes in BUCs competitions and leagues through the year.


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