February 18, 2022, by brzmjb1

BUCS Nationals 2022 – Friday Round-up

It is precisely 731 days since the curtain fell on BUCS Nationals in February 2020, marking the end of one of the most successful individual championships in the University of Nottingham’s esteemed sporting history.

With 16 medals, including 7 Gold, the event was to be remembered not just as a huge success, but also as the last major multi-sport student event in the U.K before the impact of Covid-19 brought to entire world to a standstill.

Global and international competitions were cancelled,  athletes consigned to training from their living rooms, garages turned into make-shift gyms and more zoom quizzes than we can care to remember.

Our spirit and determination, however, remained unyielding.

The BUCS Nationals Championship will look very different this year, with major sports such as Karate and Judo where we have enjoyed major success over the year will have separate competitive finals and the number of athletes traveling to the event will be considerably reduced as an result.

There are however, many parallels with previous years. For some students, this will be their final experience of this wonderful competition, a final opportunity to pull on the famous #GreenandGold.  Yet for others,  this is very much the start of the journey, a first taste of representing the University of Nottingham and creating a legacy for others to follow. What unites all of these personal stories and sporting journeys is a collective sense of pride in our student-athletes trying to the achieve the best they can.

Even the weather felt woefully familiar, with competitors battered by Storm Eunice (just as they were by Storm Dorris in 2020) as they travelled across the U.K for 3-days of top-class sport at the English Institute of Sport and Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and the Works Climbing Centre.

Fencing had the honour of opening BUCS Nationals by beginning with the Men’s Epee and Women’s Sabre starting at 9am at Ponds Forge.



Fencing action returned to Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, with the Men’s Épée and Women’s Sabre events and six University of Nottingham fencers competing. 

Fencing Coach Amy Parsons said before the event began that “everyone is looking forward to the event with a chance to get medals, mainly on the Saturday for Men’s Sabre and Women’s Foil. All four of our Women’s foil are brilliant so they could end up in the top-8. In today’s Men’s Épée we have good fencers, but are missing a few of our top athletes to an international tournament. We also have Zahra competing today in Sabre and she has a decent chance, hopefully getting into last-8. Everyone has seemed happy in the build-up with lots of BUCS matches keeping our athletes busy and in form.” 

Men’s Épée

In Friday’s Men’s discipline, the #GreenandGold were represented by four athletes, with the scheduled fifth unable to compete due to recent illness. It was a mixed set of results across the initial pool stage of the competition with our fencers struggling to find an early groove. Kevin Liang told us before the pool stage that “I’m a bit nervous to start because I only recovered from Covid-19 2 days ago, and also rolled my ankle two weeks ago! If I win my first few matches I’ll be happy and if I get through a few knockout rounds, I’ll be exceeding my expectations.

Out of our fencers, only Marcus Richards managed to post a winning record in the pool with a 4 up, 2 down finish, with Nathan Foster and Kevin Liang finishing on 3 up, 3 down. Despite finishing 1 up and 4 down in the pool, Ollie Cawley had many close losses including a couple of 5-4 game. Before play began, coach Amy Parsons told us that “Ollie is a newer fencer with a lot of ability. He just needs to focus and play his own game.”

Ollie Cawley fencing during the knockout stage of the Men’s Epee

All four Men’s Épée fencers made noticeable improvements towards the end of the morning with all qualifying for the knockout competition, including Cawley who faced Glasgow Caledonian’s Ruaridh McNair for a chance to play Durham’s Jamie Briggs in last 64. In a close match, which was beginning to become a theme of the afternoon, the score moved to 10-10 in the 3rd leg. However some drama was to ensue as with time running down McNair claimed a point in the very last second due to a red card for Cawley to unfortunately knock the Nottingham man out in the round of 128. It was a great effort by the Nottingham fencer, but indeed a very cruel way to be knocked out. After the match Cawley reflected that “experience and nerves meant a misunderstanding of the rules at the end. I battled him close, but it’s something to learn from and take into future competitions.

In a slight surprise, the first knockout round also saw Nottingham’s Marcus Richards eliminated by Dan White of Bath University. Ahead of the match, Marcus seemed confident but another closely fought contest saw neither man pull away. Watched on by teammates, a tense opening saw the score tied 6-6 when the two had to pause for a sword change for Marcus. This did not seem to put Richards off his game with the match staying close through the 2nd period to end 11-11. Ultimately though, it would be the Bath man who would come out on top in the close fought match 15-13, much to Richards‘ frustration.

However, there was success for both Nathan Foster and Kevin Liang in the first knockout round as they beat Exeter’s Oscar Plant 15-10, and Loughborough’s Will Coulson 15-13 respectively. Reflecting on his knockout win, Liang noted that he should’ve avoided the tense ending mentioning that he “made some silly mistakes.” Both wins put out fencers into the last 64, but pitted them against high quality competition in the form of 3rd seed Norberto Matheus from Imperial University for Nathan, and Nottingham Trent’s top seeded Giulio Stroppianan Jr. for Kevin.

Despite this, Liang went into his match confidently saying “If I cut out the mistakes, I believe that I have a chance,” and the confidence showed in the opening stages as he took a 3-1 lead, that was clawed back to 4-4 at the 1st break. Kevin continued to push the 1 seed hard with his coach Parsons asking for ‘active defence’, matching Trent’s Stroppiana point for point up to 8-8. Stroppiana then took the advantage as the match continued to be fiercely contested and in the closing stages the Trent fencer’s experience came through for him to close the match 15-12. This ended a somewhat successful tournament for Liang, considering his circumstances leading into the event and his relative lack of experience. Reflecting on this Kevin told us ““I got knocked out in a close game by the first seed, so the tournament could’ve gone a lot worse. I’m slightly frustrated but can definitely take some learnings going forward.” 

Marcus Richards reflects on his performance during the Men’s Epee.

For Nathan Foster, his opponent was more of a known commodity as the two had faced off in the pool stage with Matheus winning that initial test. Foster though took a similar mindset to Liang into the match saying beforehand that he had “learnt some things from that contest to take into the knockout round.” A close opening at the end of the first round with the score 4-3, however the second period saw 3rd seed Matheus put some distance between himself and our Nottingham fencer 10-6. The 3rd period opened with a fantastic start for Foster who began to put some points together to bring it with 2 points, before Matheus fought back to put himself on match point at 14-11, before ending out another toughly fought contest for one of our fencers. Despite the disappointment of going out, Foster mentioned that “I felt I could’ve done a little better over the tournament as a whole, but it wasn’t terrible. After a shaky start I managed to get into the tournament, but came up against a tricky tie to unfortunately go out.


Nathan Foster – Round of 64
Marcus Richards – Round of 128
Ollie Cawley – Round of 128
Kevin Liang – Round of 64

Women’s Sabre

The Women’s Sabre competition saw lone University of Nottingham entrant Zahra Khan valiantly flying the flag for the #GreenandGold. Competing in her second BUCS Nationals, Khan had a tough pool stage with a mixed start, stating that it’s “tough to get into the tournament mindset”. After losing the first match, Khan roared back from 4-1 down in her second to win 5-4, giving a much needed kickstart to her competition. Despite stalling in her following match, Zahra finished with two straight wins including another 5-4 thriller to end the stage with a 3 up, 2 down record.

After receiving a bye into the last 32 because of an incomplete 64, Khan was matched with Flo Minzat from UCL. Despite starting slowly and going down 7-2, Zahra continued to fight despite a fall during the match. The spirit shown by the University of Nottingham fencer saw her bring the match back to 12-7. However, Minzat saw the danger that Khan was beginning to face and stepped up the level as Zahra valiantly battling to the end of a 15-8 defeat to the 13 seed. Reflecting on her exit from the competition, Khan lamented that she “could’ve fenced better” to push her opponent into deeper water. Ultimately though, this was the end of the road for our lone Friday women’s entrant.

Zahra Khan – Women’s Sabre


Zahra Khan – Round of 32

Reflecting on the day’s fencing, University of Nottingham coach Parsons said that “there were some successful groups early on, that helped our fencers learn a lot. Kevin particularly caused problems for more experienced fencers. All 5 fencers should’ve got through to knockouts and I’m pleased that they did. 

Overall though it was a bit of a mixed day with some good fencing and many aspects to work on and learn from. Our athletes have pushed their limits throughout some very close competition and will definitely become better fencers after today. 



In the Men’s Shot Put, Lewis Botterill (10.69m) Alan Lewis (8.97m) recorded indoor personal bests in their maiden BUCS Nationals Championship. The first-year Nottingham students were just shy of progressing to the final, but were both incredibly proud of their achievements and hungry for more over the coming years.

In the Women’s Shot Put, Ashleigh Bailey (11.46m) qualified automatically for Sunday’s final by finishing in 10th. She told UoN Sport,

“I’m quite happy with my furthest throw seeing as I haven’t had consistent training. I’ve  been competing since I was eleven so I’m very used to competitions and I’m loving the atmosphere here!”

Ashleigh Bailey threw herself into Sunday’s final in the Women’s Shot put

It was bittersweet for Ella Johnson in her quest for the Women’s Shot Put podium position. The Nottingham student was severely hampered by an injury sustained during a Rugby fixture prior to the event but she threw through the pain to register a distance of 9.39m.

Architecture and Environmental studies student, Kwesi Biney, crafted a path to the 60m semi-final after registering a final time of 7.10 in his heat. The run was enough to see him progress into the semi-finals amidst a strong field. He ran a similar time in the semi-final and whilst this would see him exit the competition he was pleased with the result. Speaking to UoN Sport he said,

“I’m pretty happy with my performance and have no complaints. Fiona has been a fantastic great coach and we have a fantastic team. I’m really pleased to be here and back competing so the whole experience has been amazing.”

Zoe Dake hit the 60m track in stellar form having already registered an indoor 60m PB of 8.03 just 3-weeks ago. It was to be her first appearance for the University of Nottingham at the Championships, and she finished third in her heat, narrowly missing out on the chance to progress.

Women’s 800m runner, Sam Baker-Jones told us of the challenges of training during Covid-19, where her entire training programme was consigned to running indoors on a treadmill. The team captain finished 4th in her heat.

In the 60m Women’s ambulant race, UoN Sport Scholar Simran Kaur ran her race in 8.74 to record one of her fastest indoor track times since her PB in 2017. The first year UoN Sport scholar, competed in the T46 category (arm amputee or impairment) with her result set to be determined the RAZA points system (a method in Paralympic athletics field competitions for comparing throws or jumps by athletes of differing levels of disability).

Kaur chose the perfect time to run close to a season best in her first competition for University of Nottingham. Speaking to UoN Sport after the race she said: “It was quite difficult during first lockdown, and I wasn’t on any performance squads at that point so to have the team around me now and the support from the University I’m in a really good place. I tore my ACL two years ago and it’s been two hard years to get back to this point, so I’m really pleased. I’ve come away from home and I’ve fallen back in love with athletics, the sprints group is really close knit and you only had to listen to the crowd to know what a family we have here.”

Simran Kaur had a golden day in the  60m sprint at EIS.


Over at Ponds Forge, Joseph Palmer swam in the 1500m Freestyle and managed to finish 4th in his heat  with a time of 17:12:74 (13th fastest across the two heats). Accompanying this, the University of Nottingham saw both a Men’s and Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay heats. The Men’s team posted a time of 3:36.05 for fifth in the heat and tenth overall, whilst our Women finished in 3:59.52 for fourth in the heat and eighth overall.

It has been a fitting opening day to the 2022 BUCS Nationals with fantastic performances from the entire team.

The stage is well and truly set for a tomorrow’s ‘Super Saturday’ of student sport in Sheffield.

You can follow the University of Nottingham’s progress in the BUCS Nationals on our TwitterFacebook and Instagram feeds. There will also be regular updates on our BUCS Nationals website and social media channels.




It has been a fitting opening day to the 2022 BUCS Nationals with fantastic performances from the entire team.

The stage is well and truly set for a tomorrow’s ‘Super Saturday’ of student sport in Sheffield which will include the Badminton, Women’s Foil and Men’s Sabre where we are scheduled to have seven female entrants, and six male, including reigning BUCS Nationals Sabre champion Stefano Lucchetti.

You can follow the University of Nottingham’s progress in the BUCS Nationals on our TwitterFacebook and Instagram feeds. There will also be regular updates on our BUCS Nationals website and social media channels.

Posted in AchievementBUCSBUCS NationalsStudents