A history of the club
As a constituent college of the University of London, King’s students trained and competed for the University of London (UL). For many decades, training was held at UL’s athletics stadium at Motspur Park. King’s student still had the opportunity to compete as King’s in the annual University of London Athletics Championships (ULAC) and in the cross-country league, the London Colleges League. Both competitions are still going strong today.There is a rich history of athletics at King’s College London and our medical schools. When university athletics started in London, it was dominated by the medical schools. In 1867 the six London medical schools (including King’s, Guy’s and St Thomas’s) formed the United Hospitals Athletics Club which later became incorporated into the University of London Athletics Club. The United Hospitals Club held an annual competition for the ‘United Hospitals Athletics Shield’. The shield has been awarded since 1867 and the current holders are Imperial Medics.
In response to the lack of athletics and running provision, many of the UL colleges established their own athletics/running clubs. At the turn of the millennium, a group of King’s students founded ‘KCL Running’. Training was held twice a week in Regents Park. But by 2009, the club was struggling to get more than ten members. In response, President Glenn Barden rebranded the club as ‘KCL Athletics and Cross-Country’ and successfully recruited over 30 members. The transition to a fully functioning athletics club had begun.But, in the early 1990’s UL sold Motspur to Fulham FC, who converted the space into a football training ground. Without a track, membership of the club nose-dived.
Yet, the University of London Athletics Club continued to recruit athletes to represent them at BUCS. This was considered by many as a barrier to the growth of the college clubs. In 2014, UCLU Athletics Club withdrew their athletes from UL and decided to compete under the UCLU banner at all major competitions. King’s followed suit in 2015.
The club’s decision to enter BUCS as King’s was coincidently tied to the arrival of some high performance athletes at the University. British sprinters, Dina Asher-Smith, Laviai Neilsen and Shona Richards and British mountain runner, Max Nicholls brought with them renewed attention on athletics at King’s.
This, combined with the club moving to Parliament Hill Athletics Track in 2014, resulted in the club being granted ‘Focus club’ status by King’s Sport. This gave the club additional support and funds to bring in coaches.
In 2015, the club moved to Battersea Park Athletics Track and started coached sessions for jumps, throws, sprints and distance. With over 70 members, the club entered its first squad into BUCS cross-country, BUCS indoor and BUCS outdoor championships.
Within the same year, some club members recognised that the lack of track and field competition for university athletes made it difficult to build a squad. King’s students James Findon, Emma Reynolds, Calvi Thompson, Mimi Corden-Lloyd and Ed Trump worked with UCLU and Imperial students to found the London Colleges Athletics Series (LCAS). King’s won the inaugural series title but lost to UCLU in 2015-16.
Also in 2015, the club was instrumental in founding the London Universities and Colleges Athletics (LUCA) – a federation of 20 London University athletics clubs charged with the responsibility to manage the competitions and promote the sport within the higher education sector in London.
LUCA took over the organisation of all competitions unique to London university clubs, including LCAS which has since been rebranded as LUCA Outdoor Series.
Today, the club is in a strong position to provide coaching for almost every athletics discipline. We have a new partnership with Southwark Council which grants us ‘Co-residence’ status of Southwark Park Athletics Centre. This has enabled us to work with our community partners, London City Athletics Club.
The club is one of the fastest growing university athletics clubs in the whole of the UK. We continue to make history and 2016-17 will be no exception.