SHAFTESBURY BARNET HARRIERS sprinter Lily Beckford has her eyes set firmly on winning gold at this week’s British Universities and Colleges Sport National Championships.
Taking place between tomorrow and Sunday, the event will see more than 6,000 students from across the country descend on Sheffield for three action-packed days of sport.
Beckford, 19, will be making her second appearance in the competition after she crossed the line in third in the 400metres last year.
And the Brunel University student, who is currently ranked as the second best under-23 400m indoor runner in the United Kingdom, will accept nothing less than another podium finish this year – although she admits that indoor racing is not her strongest suit.
“I would like to win – I want to get a medal and I’ll be a bit disappointed if I don’t,” Beckford said. “If I get the race right I think I can win gold.
“Indoor racing isn’t my strongest though – I find it harder because you have to be the first to 200m, and my first 200m isn’t as strong as some other girls. I’m better over the whole distance – I really want to improve my indoor time.
“Last year, I came through in last place at the 200m mark and had to sprint to catch up. I should have run the first 200m a bit better. I feel I could have run a better time.”
In last year’s final she stopped the clock in 55.10seconds, equalling her personal best, but for such a determined individual it clearly was not enough.
Beckford will therefore be hoping to go even faster in her pursuit of victory at this year’s BUCS Nationals, which is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event and has been a springboard for many professional athletes since its inception.
The event also provides a rare opportunity for Beckford to represent her university and she has been working hard with new lead coach and former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie to ensure she is in perfect shape for the competition.
She said: “I’ve had a full training year this year as well and I’ve had a more structured plan.
“BUCS is probably the one time I actually spend with the uni team, competing for them – and it’s very much about having pride for your university. I hope to take it my running further than university – that’s the idea.”
British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for higher rducation sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. BUCS Nationals is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event, bringing more than 6,000 athletes to Sheffield to compete in nine sports.