Students’ class shines on national stage

Rachael Haddow is crowned under-60kg BUCS champion as losing finalist Ciara Naughton looks on

Rachael Haddow is crowned under-60kg BUCS champion as losing finalist Ciara Naughton looks on

Moneyfields' Jay Cooper

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UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth boxer Rachael Haddow admitted she had to pinch herself after signing off from the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Gatorade Nationals in style.

The 23-year-old was in action at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge as she went up against University of Worcester’s Ciara Naughton for the women’s under-60kg BUCS title.

And Haddow shone under the bright Steel City lights, winning the gold medal in under a minute as she flew out of the blocks.

Despite the impressive victory, Haddow is still set to hang up her gloves as she is in her final year of studying dentistry.

However, she insists she will have no regrets when she calls time on her short, but ultimately sweet career.

‘I’m feeling quite happy,’ said Haddow.

‘My opponent came out really strong with a lot of really quick shots.

‘Fortunately, I was a bit taller so I was able to keep out of range, did my basics, did my ones and twos and I caught her with my right hand.

‘I didn’t join the boxing club at university last year. I joined this year, and because it was my final year of uni, I wanted to give it a shot.

‘I’ve now actually won gold at university level so I’m very happy.

‘I think if I was still at university, perhaps I would keep going with boxing. But I’m in my third year and graduating this summer so I think this is it for me.

‘I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s an incredible sport. I’ll keep watching the sport but I won’t be participating.’

Haddow wasn’t the only Portsmouth boxer to shine at nationals, with Jonathan Francis taking gold in the under-71kg event and Josh Williams following suit with the under-57kg title.

Ashley Dantzie also finished top of the pile in the under-67kg category, and after finishing second best last year, the software engineering student was delighted to deliver this time around.

‘It feels really good to be champion,’ said Dantzie.

‘I’ve improved and trained so hard for this, so it’s special.

‘I had to win, really, because it might be my last fight – I’m in my last year at university – so I made sure this time.’

Meanwhile, Heart of Portsmouth’s Eric Nwanko came up just short in his bid to take the national title at under-75kg in class B against Brighton’s Lee Jenkins.

It proved an all-action affair, with Nwanko starting quickly with fast hands landing to head and body.

Jenkins took the centre of the ring in the second, dictating the pace more and took over in third.

Nwanko showed real grit to keep with his opponent but didn’t get the verdict.

HOP coach Colin Williams said: ‘We are so proud of Eric to get to a national final.

‘When we get Eric back to the gym, we will work more on his timing and co-ordination.’

n Gatorade is the exclusive nutrition and hydration partner to British Universities & Colleges Sports and headline sponsor of the BUCS Gatorade Nationals. BUCS and Gatorade work together to educate student athletes on the importance of sports nutrition and hydration – visit: www.bucs.org.uk/gatorade

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