Yorkshire brothers go for gold
13th February 2017
Two brothers from Sheffield Hallam University say they are looking forward to going head to head for the first time as they prepare for this weekend's British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Nationals in Sheffield.
Swimmers Max and Joe Litchfield, both sport and exercise science students, will compete against each other in both the 400m and 200m individual medley (IM) events being held at Ponds Forge. Older brother Max, 21, a second-year student, made his Olympic debut in Rio last year, narrowly missing out on a medal after finishing fourth in the men's 400m IM final. The Olympian broke the BUCS record for the 400m IM event last year and was subsequently named BUCS Sportsman of the Year. "It's always nice to race at BUCS and represent Team Hallam," said Max, who swims with the City of Sheffield Swim Squad alongside his brother. "And then racing Joe as well, it adds a bit more pressure to it. "But, at the end of the day, you've got to perform under pressure when you race any way so you've got to think of it as another race and, even though he's my brother, I still want to beat him and I'm sure he wants to beat me as well. "I've just got to go in there and race my best but whatever happens, it's always nice to train and race alongside Joe." It will be the first time Joe will be competing in the BUCS Nationals, however, the 18-year-old is no stranger to big competitions after becoming the European junior champion last year and winning a silver medal in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in 2015. Joe, a first-year student who is hoping to beat his personal bests of 2:01.07 in the 200m IM and 4:22 in the 400m IM, said: "I'm quite excited for BUCS. It's a totally different event and you're swimming against people you've never met before. It's another opportunity and it's here at Ponds Forge, in a fast pool so it's a really good event for me." He added: "Max and I haven't really had a top-level competitive race yet as he's always been a bit further ahead of me in the IMs but I'm hopefully going to get closer to him in the next couple of years. But, BUCS will be the first gala that we will be going head to head and I'm looking forward to it." The brothers, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, are hoping to qualify for the World Championships this summer and hope the BUCS competition will give them a good indication as to where they're at in the run up to the trials. They are both on the University's Performance Athlete Support Programme and say the scheme has helped a lot with their development. "The programme has been a massive help to me and has been essential for my development in both swimming and in my studies," said Max, whose personal bests currently stand at 1:59.94 in the 200m IM and 4:11.62 in the 400m IM. "There's the financial benefit which helps massively and you've got the support there with things like physio, conditioning through to lifestyle help and it's nice to have people there knowing they've got your back." Over 6,000 students from universities across the UK, including many Olympic-level athletes will travel to Sheffield this weekend where they will compete in nine sports - athletics, badminton, climbing, fencing, judo, karate, rifle, swimming and trampolining - across seven Sheffield venues. On the first day of the three-day sporting event, taking place from 17 to 19 February, HRH The Princess Royal, will visit the English Institute of Sport (EIS), where she will meet Max and Sheffield Hallam's head of sport services, Dan Porter along with other BUCS competitors from other institutions. Last year, British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) agreed a three-year deal with City of Sheffield to host the Nationals at Sheffield's unrivalled sporting facilities. The agreement was signed in conjunction with a city partnership consisting of Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield International Venues and University of Sheffield. Watch a video related to this here.