LEEDS long-jump star Daniel Gardiner insists competing in the BUCS World University Games will be a huge stepping stone towards qualifying for major senior championships in the future.
Held biennially in major cities across the globe, the World University Games (WUGs) sees athletes come together to compete across numerous sports, with the Summer Universiade the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics.
Gardiner, a 27-year-old athlete from Alwoodley, is one of nearly 10,000 participants from 170 countries expected to compete at this year’s edition, held in Chinese Taipei from August 19 to 30. At the last Games, held in Gwangju, South Korea, Team GBR recorded its biggest medal haul in 10 years, with 12 per cent of athletes medalling – a total of 11 podium finishes split between three gold, four silver and four bronze.
And Gardiner, a former pupil at Allerton High School, believes competing at this event will stand him in good stead to challenge on the senior circuit and donning the Team GB colours at Tokyo 2020.
“I think the World Student Games will be a really good springboard to go on and try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games next year,” said the long-jumper.
“My personal best at the moment is 7.96m, but I want to become a consistent jumper over eight metres because those sorts of results get you to major championships.”
Team GBR is preparing to send its largest delegation to the Games since 2011, with over 110 athletes set to compete across 13 sports, with the likes of Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill having previously appeared at the Games back in 2005.
A former member at City of Leeds Athletics club, Gardiner now represents City of Sheffield, where he previously spent time training with Ennis-Hill as a decathlete, before deciding to focus on the long-jump.
And although he is still getting used to competing in one event instead of 10, Gardiner believes he is capable producing the goods when it matters.
“My first objective is to qualify for the final at the WUGs and then, if I can jump to the best of my ability, I think I’ll have a chance of medalling, or I won’t be a million miles away at least,” said Gardiner, who admits he is constantly motivated by his girlfriend, two-time Olympian and 1,500m runner, Laura Weightman.
“Although I’m still kind of getting used to the long jump events, I’m always aiming to be among the medals, I’m always aiming for the podium.”
And the Yorkshireman, who is currently finishing a masters in Sport Business at Leeds Beckett University, says he is relishing the opportunity of competing in such a unique competition.
“Chinese Taipei should be a cool country to visit,” he said. “I reckon the athletes’ village will be great too. I expect there’ll be quite a good camaraderie and I’m looking forward to it.”
n British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. Over 110 athletes will represent the GB team at the 29th FISU Summer World University Games 2017 from August 19-30.