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Sports heritage

The Olympic torch at Caerphilly Castle as part of its journey around the UK

We are a proud nation and there are some things you may not know about our sports heritage and just how varied it is. Wales has an impressive history when it comes to sport - so here are a few facts about Welsh sports so you’re in the know as well…

The first official athletics meeting was held in Aberystwyth in 1860, called by welsh sportsman John Chambers who was a catalyst in the founding of British amateur athletics.

4700 victory medals were struck at the Royal Mint in Wales. Each medal took 10 hours to produce and they are the biggest and heaviest Olympic and Paralympic Games medals ever made.

Lawn tennis is the lasting legacy of North Wales resident Major Walter Wingfield, who patented the game. With its simple rules, it was accessible to all and has certainly stood the test of time.

In 1958 Wales hosted the Empire Games, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games, in Cardiff, 35 nations came to Cardiff to compete. The Welsh athletes secured the nation's best ever 11th place in the medal table, many of the medals coming from the boxing team. Featherweight Howard Winstone won Gold, the only Gold in Wales’ 11 medal total that year. The tradition of singing the national anthem sung before an international sporting occasion was started in Wales in 1905. Wales were the first nation to sing the anthem as a response to the New Zealand team’s Haka before a rugby game.

No Commonwealth Games is complete without the Queen’s Baton Relay – but did you know it originated in Wales? The first ever baton used, when the Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Cardiff in 1958, can now be seen at the National Museum Cardiff.


All the London 2012 medals were made in the UK by Royal Mint at their headquarters in Llantrisant, which is now open for visitorsMany Welsh athletes brought home medals from the London 2012 Olympic Games and our Paralympic Welsh athletes regularly bring home Gold. In the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Welsh athletes won 10 Gold medals, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze – contributing 25% to the whole Team GB Gold Medal haul.


Did you know?
The shots you see at most of the world’s major sporting events are from cameras made in Wales!  Sony makes Digital HD broadcast video cameras in Bridgend, south Wales.