Sport Writer Emily Rints previews UB Sport’s Team of the Year award, as four strong squads hope to cap off superb seasons in style

Written by Emily Rints
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Images by Sophie Peck , James Wadlow

With this year’s Sports Awards going virtual, we caught up with the teams shortlisted for ‘Team of the Year’ to see how they felt about the upcoming celebration of another successful year for UB Sport.

All four teams shortlisted; Archery’s Women’s Recurve, Indoor Athletics, Netball Firsts, and Women’s Squash Firsts have had exceptional years and have expressed joy at the idea of winning the award. Athletics’ Issy Boffey described it as ‘an honour’ whilst netball’s Freya Bignell said the award ‘would mean the world to both the club and the girls in the first team.’

It goes without saying that all four teams have had a tremendous year, and individual achievements within these teams also deserve recognition, with many athletes balancing competing at high levels with wider university life.

The athletics team had plenty of individual successes at this year’s BUCS indoors

The athletics team had plenty of individual successes at this year’s BUCS indoors, with 22 finalists and six medallists; including two gold (Issy Boffey in the 400m and Laura Zialor in the high jump), three silver (women’s 4x200m, Francesca Brint in the 800m, and Jake Porter in the 60m hurdles) and one bronze (Tom Keen in the 1500m). These individual achievements meant the team finished second overall.

Likewise, the women’s recurve archery team were not short of individual quality. With Rebekah Tipping selected to represent Ireland in 2020, Philippa Taylor holding seven national records, and Eleanor Piper being a member of the Great Britain Olympic Ambition Squad and in contention for the Tokyo Olympics next summer, it is no wonder the team has been so successful.

Georgia Pexton and Ellie Rattu captained the under-21 Wasps side for the 2019/20 season

While the netball team did not get their well-deserved chance to battle it out at the BUCS championship final this year, they can still be proud of a stellar year. Georgia Pexton and Ellie Rattu captained the under-21 Wasps side for the 2019/20 season and Fran Williams, an England senior international, competed in the test series against South Africa and in the Nations Cup last January.

The women’s squash firsts also boast phenomenal talent. Kiera Marshall was picked to represent the England team in the Under-19 European Championships this year, though this has been cancelled due to coronavirus. Marshall and Lucy Green both played in the Irish Junior Open, with them placing first and second respectively.

Considering the plethora of quality players on each team, it is little surprise that they have all had some outstanding results. There was no shortage of success for the indoor athletics squad, as they won the Steel Cup in Sheffield and finished third in the Inter-Varsity competition in Lee-Valley. These achievements are a testament to the ‘hard work the athletes and coaches put in throughout the year gearing towards BUCS events and this year’s BUCS indoor team reflected that very well,’ said team captain Boffey.

The women’s recurve team remained undefeated BUCS champions

Meanwhile, the women’s recurve team remained undefeated BUCS champions for the indoor and outdoor archery championships for the fourth year running. Pam Quilang commended her team-mates for ‘the amount of training – both physically and mentally’, which contributes to their consistent success. To add to their BUCS achievements, the club won the BUTTS League, the most challenging university archery discipline in the country.

The netball firsts worked ‘incredibly hard this year’ emphasised Bignell, the club’s co-president, and they were unbeaten all year on their way to the Premier North title. Not getting a shot at BUCS Championship gold was devastating, but factors well beyond their control should not tarnish a fantastic year.

[The nomination] makes the 7 am S&C sessions worth it

The women’s squash firsts have ‘put in a tremendous amount of effort,’ praised captain Amy Jones, and this earned them a top seed for the BUCS championships. Jones added that the ‘award highlights everything we’ve worked for and makes the 7 am S&C [strength and conditioning] sessions worth it.’  Additionally, the team showed great success at the BUCS Individual Championship, with Kiera Marshall placing second and Amy Jones placing fifth.

To find out who wins Team of the Year, tune into the UB Sport YouTube channel this Friday at 7:30 pm.


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