Star student Close bags gold on national stage

Beth Close (centre) stands tall on the podium in Sheffield. Picture by Angus Matheson (Sportsbeat)
Beth Close (centre) stands tall on the podium in Sheffield. Picture by Angus Matheson (Sportsbeat)

Worthing athlete Beth Close was the most shocked person in Sheffield after running to a British University and College Sport Nationals gold medal.

Normally a 400metre runner, the University of Bath student tested herself over half the distance and passed with flying colours – winning in a time of 24.5 seconds.

It was a race that certainly caught her by surprise in a brilliant display, taking her place among the 6,000 athletes that descended on the Steel City for the three-day multi-event action.

Not only did she take gold but Close also completed her collection of medals, reflecting on a fond experience, she said: “It’s amazing, I was not expecting to do this at all so I’m really, really happy with how things have gone. This is my final year so it’s such a nice thing to end in, I’m usually a 400m hurdler so this is very different and I used to be a sprinter as well.

“I was just hoping to get into the final, I wasn’t fast enough to do the 400m so I really threw myself into this one and thankfully it has paid off.

“On the final bend I tried to relax and take what was there and that got me the gold so the race plan worked as well as I could have hoped. This is my fourth BUCS Nationals, I had fourth last year but I had a silver and bronze from previous years so finally been able to complete the set.”

This year saw BUCS Nationals return for its sixth year, bringing together individual events which take place across Sheffield.

More than 500 officials and volunteers made it happen, with this the largest annual multi-sport event in the UK.

But while the competition continues, it’s the end of the line for the 22-year-old Close, enjoying a swansong moment with a place atop the podium.

Yet when it comes to the BUCS Nationals, this is a competition about more than the on-track action for the sport and exercise science student.

“BUCS is brilliant, it’s so much fun and I always get such a buzz out of competing here,” she added.

“You’ve got your whole team here cheering you on and you’re cheering them on, it feels much more like a team event. It helps massively, you can hear them as distant voices and that’s a really nice feeling.

“Next for me is the outdoor running, I’ve got a bit of a foot problem which is preventing me from doing the hurdles, but hopefully I can get that sorted out.”

BUCS Nationals powered by Muhdo is the largest annual multi-sport event in the UK, bringing the best of Britain’s university athletes together to compete across eight different sports in Sheffield.

For more information visit bucs.org.uk or you can do the same via #BUCSNationals on Twitter.