AARON LOWMAN, MICHAEL DARLOW, KIRSTY CAPES
If you’re looking for a successful, engaging, competitive and social club to join this year, you need look no further than Brunel Athletics Club.
As both the largest sports club on campus and a formidable force on Brunel’s social scene, Athletics Club is in a unique position as a Brunel activity in that it really does offer something for everyone. Earning its first international vest at the 1948 London Olympics, Athletics Club has gone from strength to strength, boasting an alumni of world-class athletes and elite youth performers who began their sports careers right here at Brunel.
Committee Chairman Adam Varvel is proud of the club’s inclusivity as well as its success on the world stage: “Together we work hard to create the perfect university sporting experience by facilitating athletes of all abilities. Our main focus is of course representing the University... at BUCS where we compete against the biggest sporting universities in the country.”
Dozens of Brunel Athletics Club’s current members are competitive internationally, bringing Brunel to the attention of the world as one of the greatest for sport. Notable alumni include Perri Shakes-Drayton, who most recently won Gold for both the 400m and 4x400m relay events at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenberg. Ashley Bryant was ranked best decathlete in the country last year and holds the under 23 world record for the decathlon at 8141 points. Meanwhile Aisha Naibe-Wey, who graduated this year with a Second Class Honours degree in Sports Science, won Gold for Brunel in the 400m hurdles event at this year’s BUCS championships and finished 5th at the British Championships, an experience which Naibe-Wey describes as “amazing”.
She says, “It was great to be a part of such a high quality race as that and [it] just motivated me to maintain my standard and push even further to stay in the mix.” A born competitor, Aisha cites “the fact that I know I was born to run and be a champion” as motivation. “I felt really happy [with the British Championships result] but obviously you’re never really satisfied as an athlete until you’re the best so it’s motivated me more than ever to get faster and faster.”
Decathlete and Athletics Club member David Hall agrees that being an athlete is all about being at the top of your game. “When I see others around me doing well then I always get that little push to step up and match them”
Many Athletics Club alumni have cited the facilities at Brunel as something that has contributed greatly to their success. The Brunel Sports Scholarship Programme offers free access to facilities like the Indoor Athletics Centre to athletically promising students. As a recipient of the Scholarship, David Hall has been taking full advantage of the free facilities, which he describes as “second to none”: “With the great cost that comes with starting university it has been a real help having the free access to the IAC track and gym and physiotherapy.” The Scholarship programme also offers recipients a chance to be part of the Mo Farah Academy, launched in August 2013 with the aim of providing guidance and support to top athletes at Brunel and St. Mary’s Universities.
Additional perks of being part of the Athletics Club are the year-round events hosted right here on campus including the Brunel Jumps and Throws Festival. The event is open to athletes of any ability, so everyone is offered a chance to compete in a Brunel vest, and donates a portion of the proceeds to charity. Both Aisha and David also competed in the West London Varsity against St. Mary’s; with Aisha calling it “the most exciting match of the year”. Nationally, Athletics Club competes in the London Colleges Cross-Country League and the BUCS Cross-Country, Indoor and Outdoor Athletics fixtures, some of the most prestigious events in the country. In 2009 Brunel held the titles for both Men’s and Women’s Indoor Athletics events.
Athletics Club isn’t all about the big names, though. Chairman Adam Varvel says, “When I first signed up for Athletics in my fresher year, I instantly fell for the hardworking and very friendly atmosphere reaching all aspects of the club”. When talking about her experience with Athletics Club, Becky Wilby, a second year middle distance runner says “I’ve loved every minute of it, cannot think of one bad comment to make... Through Brunel AC I have met my best friends and my passion for athletics has grown even stronger, which has really topped off my experience of being a fresher at Brunel.”
Both Varvel and Wilby emphasise that you don’t have to be a high-level athlete to get involved in Brunel Athletics. Becky says, “If anyone is interested in athletics, or maybe just an easy run every now and then, whatever level of performance, I would definitely recommend you join.” One thing is for sure, Athletics Club incorporates both elite training and world-class facilities but doesn’t forget to have fun every now and then. Members repeatedly cite the friendly and welcoming atmosphere as something that makes Athletics Club so special. David Hall, who is aiming to compete at the European and World Championships next year, calls Athletics Club “a big family... everyone supports each other and just has lot of fun together.”
Any advice for Brunel’s aspiring athletes? Aisha says that it’s all about perseverance: “You can do anything you put your mind to... even though at times it may get a bit much persevere because the rewards are much greater”
For more information, contact the Chair of Brunel Athletic Club, Adam Varvel, follow @AthleticsBrunel and @BrunelJumps on Twitter or search for Brunel Athletics on Facebook.