Ilford’s Zatat wants more BUCS success

PUBLISHED: 16:30 15 February 2017

Youcef Zatat of Woodford Green at the British Championships

Youcef Zatat of Woodford Green at the British Championships


Woodford Green shot-putter chasing another title

With five BUCS titles to his name already, Ilford shot putter Youcef Zatat claims he never gets tired of representing his university as he goes in search of a sixth crown this weekend.

Now in its fifth year, BUCS Nationals sees more than 6,000 students compete during three action-packed days of sport across different venues in the Steel City, from February 17-19.

The 22-year-old is in the final year of his masters degree in strength and conditioning at the University of East London, and is feeling confident ahead of a comeback appearance in Sheffield.

He missed the event last year due to a hernia, but is fully fit and out to reassert his dominance over his rivals.

“I’m looking forward to going there, competing, and hopefully winning it again,” said the Woodford Green and Essex Ladies athlete.

“Missing last year with the hernia gives me a bit more motivation to get my title back.

“Last year was really unfortunate because I was in really good shape, physically and technically, so I was going into it really positively.

“Then the injury came out of nowhere really, so it was a bit of a shock to the system. I can’t really say I’ve had a bad session this winter. So I’m feeling confident.”

As well as recovering from the hernia, Zatat has had to deal with a change in technique in the last 12 months.

The switch from a glide to a spin came after a two-week training camp at the Altis facility in Arizona, USA, last winter.

Under the guidance of John Godina, a four-time world shot put champion, Zatat changed techniques and within the space of 48 hours had thrown a training personal best.

But the self-coached Zatat admitted he was not keen on the switch at first.

“The first session he stood there and watched me throw, and then at the end he said ‘look just do one spin for me, let me see it’,” he added.

“So I did it and he asked for two days to see what we could do together.

“I was a bit reluctant, training was going well at the time, but he insisted and by the end of the second day I threw a training PB, so I was convinced it was what I needed to be doing.

“But then coming back was always going to be the big task of trying to work out what I need to do alone.

“So it was difficult last year, there was a lot of experimenting, finding out what would and wouldn’t work. But now we’ve got to a place where I know what I need to be doing to move forwards.”

BUCS Nationals has been a springboard for professional athletes since its inception, and Zatat is hoping to follow in the footsteps of those that have gone before him.

And having now settled into life with his new technique, he has international representation in his sights, although he knows it will take an improvement from his current best of 18.01m.

“I just want to see progression, and I’m confident I can see a lot of progression, and I’ve got one eye on the Commonwealth Games,” he added.

“Recently they just released the standards for the World University Games in Chinese Taipei, so both of those championships are something I’m looking at.

“The standard for the World University Games is 18.80m, and I’m confident that I can get that standard.”

*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.

BUCS Nationals is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event, bringing over 6,000 athletes to Sheffield to compete in nine sports.

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