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"By just joining in and having fun, your progress will come." Why you should join your University athletics club this September

12/09/2019 00:00, I Mewn Blog /

It’s that time of year again. You are moving away from home to spend 3 years in a new city getting your degree. Joining a sports team may be the first thing on your mind or it may be the last thing on your mind but whichever it is, you should definitely join a sports team during your time at University.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the reasons why you should join a sports team at University: Make new friends, get fitter and healthier, improve your employability and reduce stress levels. These are all true and one sport which proves this is athletics. Abi Goodrick-Latham attended Swansea University with no previous athletics or serious sporting background and through her University career she found her love and has since received a Welsh vest and broken a Championship Record.

Abigayle Goodrick-Latham started Swansea University in September 2015 never having done any form of athletics before, not even at school. Much like other students who go to University who aren’t practicing a sport, Abigayle struggled to find one she enjoyed. 

“Before university I did karate (Shotokan) for about 8 years to which I got my black belt but unfortunately, I felt I had reached my peak. After a year of doing nothing and coming to university I wanting to pick the sport back up however I found that difficult having lost my passion for it.”

The one evening, her flatmate dragged her along to a training session in the club’s sprints group. After a year of training for sprints, her passion for sport did not return and she almost considered stopping until she ran her first cross country race.

“After doing sprints for a year I then saw the cross country captain post about a cross country race coming up and thought it might be something fun and different to try. After walking most of my first race the support of the cross country captain at the time, Rhiannon, encouraged me to go to the next one and keep trying. It was when I finally managed to run my first xc race that I really fell in love with the sport and started middle distance running.” 

Since taking up the 1500m, her preferred event, she has dropped her time from 6:09:08 to 4:48:51, breaking the West Wales Championship record in the process and has represented Wales in Cross Country winning a team bronze medal. 

“What the sport and club has shown me is that it doesn’t matter at what level you start and by just joining in and having fun, your progress will come in time. When I joined Athletics at University I sometimes felt at a disadvantage, not having as much experience, training background and knowledge as the athletes who began at a junior level. Despite this, I have done my best to catch up to other athletes to be able to achieve things I never thought I could. From walking my first Cross-country races to a category win in the Gwent league series, achieving a team medal at the Cross-country Welsh Championships twice and representing wales, getting the U23 Bronze team medal.”

Abi has improved consistently over her years at University and plans to carry on working towards her goals and her post-university athletics career. She expressed that she plans “on continuing to run and reach what I'm capable of! I'm aiming to represent Wales again in cross-country and would like to have the chance to do that on the track in the 3K steeplechase next year.”

The principles and skills developed in athletics support athletes that come from a range of sports including Netball and Rugby but also no sporting history at all. Athletics is for everyone, no matter your ability so give it a go at University and you may even find your talent in the process.  

If running, jumping or throwing aren't your thing there are still loads of ways to get involved in athletics, there are plenty of coaching and officiating opportunities on our website.