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Badminton’s BUCS Nationals were held between 16-18 February at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield. Lancaster’s Badminton Team took their largest squad with high hopes for impressive results.
They absolutely delivered.
With GB Badminton’s Olympic funding being cut, Universities have become hubs for badminton talent. With the likes of Loughborough, Bath and Nottingham recruiting professional hopefuls, offering full time training and all the additional benefits expected for full time athletes that Badminton England can no longer provide. Many of these Universities are now also looking abroad for talent to boost their team’s standard. All this combined has led to University badminton becoming a hotspot for European talent.
BUCS Nationals is the chance for these players to compete on an individual basis, prove their worth and bring back valuable points for their University – in short, if you’re of University age and good at badminton, you’re probably competing at this event!
The organisation is also at the very pinnacle for Badminton events, as it proceeds through qualification draws with 128 entries for each of the 5 events; Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. 16 qualify and join a further 16 seeded entries in the round of 32 main draw.
For the 2018 event, Lancaster were allowed 1 entry of Women’s Doubles and 2 entries for each of the remaining events, all beginning with qualification.
Incredible performances saw Lancaster’s team ending with 2 draw main finishes. Men’s Doubles pairing of Alistair Hawgood and Viktor Minchev battled through close qualification matches to draw the number 2 seeds from Loughborough in the main draw stages. Losing 21-14 21-16, the Lancaster duo showed their ability in a match that many would have predicted to be a breeze for the Loughborough pair. Alistair, Men’s First Team Captain, said “we were over the moon to qualify and position ourselves in the top 32 in the UK for University students. We went into the match with nothing to lose and really made the other guys show their ability to win. It’s a proud moment for us”.
Lancaster achieved their second main draw appearance in the Men’s Singles as Adam Stewart qualified for his third consecutive year! Beating an ex-England Junior athlete and cruising through qualification without dropping a set, Adam showed he was in fine form! In the main draw he was up against an old rival, Josh Neil from the University of West Scotland, unfortunately losing in 2 sets. Speaking after the match Adam said, “I’ve known Josh as a Junior where he was easily top 5 in Europe. I wouldn’t get close to him back then, so to put in a competitive performance now is pleasing. Another main draw qualification for the third time in a row is a huge achievement for me!”.
2 main draw appearances were nearly 4 as Viktor Minchev with Amy Heron and Adam Stewart with Mark Eardley lost in their final rounds of qualification for Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles respectively. Jess Logue and Victoria Hatch also competed well to reach the second round of qualification in Women’s Doubles.
Lancaster certainly isn’t a name that comes to many minds when thinking of Universities for badminton. However, the team are slowly changing that as their results keep improving year on year.