News: Nottingham Uni Track Team

Back in December 2020, the University of Nottingham Track Team won the British Universities & Colleges Sport Team of the Year 2020

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News: Nottingham Uni Track Team

On 8th December 2020, University of Nottingham’s Track Squad was announced as the British Universities & Colleges Sport team of the year. From every team and every university in the country, somehow we had been recognised.

This was the first time any cycling team has won this prize, demonstrating the recognition that University Cycling has gained over the past few years. This prize was a culmination of dedication, hard work and sacrifice from the whole squad and support staff within the University of Nottingham and beyond.

Track cycling at university has increasingly become the focal point of university cycling, due to the high number of BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) points awarded at this event. These points usually dictate funding levels for a club, and so a reasonable haul of points at this event can secure funding for years to come.

Since 2017 the University of Nottingham Cycling club has slowly gained traction; with the University eventually recognising that various athletes deserved scholarships, and that the potential of the club was extremely high.

The cycling club transitioned from a development club through to a performance club between 2017 and 2019 due to it securing enough BUCS points over a three-year period. This enabled access to all facilities within UoN Sport, from Strength & Conditioning coaching to nutritional support. Access to this offered huge benefits to the whole club. The club had a lot of athletes with untapped potential at the start of their degrees, so with ambitious goals and a wealth of support they made significant investments in the club to support us wherever required.

The support culminated in breaking the club BUCS points totals in the 2019 and 2020 BUCS track championships. Not only did the club break points totals, but it broke various competition records in the process. Notably the male and female team pursuit records, lowered to 4:08:589 and 4:45:042 respectively. The squad came away from the 2020 championships with a total of six gold and four silver medals.

The success of this weekend stemmed from the friendship and commitment made by the whole squad. They say that you cannot measure morale, but ours was certainly over a thousand. We only took a 10 person squad to the championships, significantly smaller than our closest rivals, however this played to our advantage. Resources were more easily directed to the athletes who needed it most.

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The confidence and overwhelming enjoyment that we got from the championships left us all wanting more. Therefore, we all pencilled in the 2020 HSBC National Track Championships, and subject to not going on too many all-night benders, would see what we could achieve at the highest level of British track cycling.

Thankfully, we all limited the nights out, got our heads down (metaphorically) and continued the trajectory through to the end of January. This is always a tricky period for us, since we have January exams, coupled with the panto at Derby Arena making track time limited. Obstacles are inevitable for any athlete so after carefully negotiating these, we came to the National champs in reasonably good shape.

The main events entered were the female and male Team pursuit. The female team rode as the University of Nottingham, however three out of the four original male Nottingham TP rode under their trade team of ‘Aerolab WardWheelZ’. The female team came away with an incredible silver medal, behind none other than GB themselves… with Aerolab WardWheelZ snatching a bronze medal after a fierce ride off against Wales.

Not only do these achievements display feats of sacrifice coupled with undeniable hard work, but they also recognise how performance level cycling is not exclusive to people outside of higher education. In the 2016 Junior Tour of Wales, roughly 5 out of 100 juniors were perusing higher education, this is far below the 50.2% of young people that are enrolled on undergraduate degrees.

There is obviously a plethora of reasons that people do not go to university, but it is clear that a minority of top-level cyclists are entering higher education.

What these achievements demonstrate are that the common assumption that ‘High performance cycling and University studies directly conflict each other’ is completely incorrect. The 2020 BUCS team of the year prize does not only recognise the undeniable success of the University of Nottingham, but acts as recognition for University cycling as a whole.

We recognise that we are not world class athletes, but hope that this article can enable younger people to view university as a pathway to the top tier of sport, whilst gaining a valuable degree in the process.

If you are interested in finding more out about the University of Nottingham, check out the link below to discover undergraduate courses, or contact Bryan Steel (University Coach) about the cycling programme at the University of Nottingham.

Bryan Steel: Email:

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