Welsh Wonders at the Commonwealth Games
[Georgia Davies cited Sporting Wales photography]
Did you know British 50m backstroke record holder Georgia Davies (pictured above) grew up in Swansea and loves Welsh lamb and Welsh cakes? Did you know weightlifter Catrin Jones, from North West Wales, can lift the equivalent of a 14 stone man? Did you know Wales rugby star Hallam Amos is studying medicine at Cardiff University, following in the footsteps of other Welsh international rugby players Jamie Roberts and J. P. R. Williams?
If not, read on to discover a little bit more about some of the Welsh Wonders and medal hopefuls for the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast 2018, Australia. Find out about the areas of Wales our athletes and para athletes are associated with and how, for a small nation, we can produce the talent to win medals at major championships.
Swimmer Georgia Davies won a gold medal in the 50m backstroke, and a silver in the 100m backstroke at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and she has replicated her success in Australia by picking up two bronze medals. One individual and one in the team 4x100m medley race with Chloe Tutton, Alys Thomas (Gold medallist) and Kathryn Greenslade. In fact, she also holds the British record for 50m backstroke. Georgia grew up in Swansea and even found time to study Law at Swansea University during her swimming career. Find out about her love for Welsh produce - at TheWelshMenu.com
Team Wales Captain, Non Stanford is a Triathlon star but did you know as a 9 year old living in the Swansea area, Non wanted to be a gymnast. In her blog, she comments “From as young as I can remember I’ve had a passion for sport. At the tender age of 9, I asked my mum if I would ever make an Olympic Gymnast. She said no. A bit harsh maybe.”
Nevertheless, having access to sports facilities in the area, Non persevered with her sporting ambitions to become one of Wales best known stars, winning the 2013 ITU Triathlon World Championships and has performed well at other major championships, including a brilliant 4th place at the Rio Olympics.
[cited Team Wales]
Jazz Carlin, pictured, was given the honour of carrying the Welsh flag at the Gold Coast, and she deserved it! Jazz is one of the United Kingdom's best swimmers having won gold in the Glasgow games 800m freestyle, 2 silver medals at the Rio Olympics and a number of British records.
She moved to train in Swansea’s national pool at an early age and whilst in Swansea she became a qualified personal trainer and completed a degree in Business & Accountancy at Swansea University. A complete talent.
Our second largest city, Swansea, is situated in South West Wales is home to around 239,000 people and has two universities. Swansea University sports village is a World class facility which once hosted New Zealand and Fiji during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. You can watch Rugby Union Pro 14 matches or Premier League football at the Liberty Stadium and the city is home to our National Pool which has been used to train aspiring Olympians/ Paralympians including our Welsh Wonders above.
The area around Swansea is best known for its scenery including the including Gower Peninsula, one Wales' 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Wrexham and the North East
Xenna Hughes is the daughter of football great Mark Hughes and has become one of the leading players in the Welsh Women’s hockey team. Playing in defence, this will be 25-year-old Xenna’s second Commonwealth Games and she has overtaken her father in terms of international caps.
Tesni Evans , the first person from Wales to Welsh win the British National Championships, has won Wales a bronze by brilliantly beating defending Commonwealth Champion Nicol David.
Discover more about North East Wales, the area surrounding our second largest town in Wales Wrexham. The Plas Coch Sports Centre at Wrexham Glyndwr University boasts a gym, dance studio, hockey stadium, football pitches and a sports hall, all helping to train the next generation.
[cited Team Wales]
Anna Hursey was the youngest star at the games but aged 11 she already has a great history in Table Tennis. She competed in her first international tournament aged 9, won the EuroMinis tournament in 2017 and in the same year became the one of if not the youngest player ever to play in a senior European championship, winning a number of matches for Wales.
Growing up in Cardiff (continuing), Anna has trained at the Cardiff City table tennis club, Penlan Leisure Centre, Mumbles table tennis club and also in China. Anna really impressed at the Gold Coast along with a number of the Welsh Team, picking up a number of wins.
Elinor and Meg Barker - The sisters had their first opportunity to ride together for Team Wales as Meg Barker, 20, joined her sister in the squad. Meg is just beginning to show her pedigree in the sport but 23 year old Sister Elinor MBE, has already achieved so much in her young career. An Olympic, two-time world and three-time European and now Commonwealth champion in the team pursuit, Elinor is already a Welsh sporting legend. Elinor also had a huge role in supporting Danielle Rowe's winning performance in the games Road race event.
Olympic and 3x World champion F46 javelin para athlete Hollie Arnold, from Caerphilly, lived and trained in Cardiff during her bid for Olympic success at the Rio Olympics. She was voted to become the GB para athletics team captain at the London World Championships where she won again highlighting her prowess and popularity. Her winning streak continued as she threw a WORLD RECORD on her last throw to win the Commonwealth gold medal! Congratulations Hollie!
Cyclist, Luke Rowe is back in form after a leg break last year. The Team Sky road captain led Chris Froome and co to victory at the Tour de France in 2017 and has won a number of individual events himself. Luke is one of 20 Welsh cyclists at the games which underlines our competitiveness in the sport.
Cardiff a two time European city of sport and has produced a number of sporting stars considering its relative small size for a Capital city. These include Welsh Legends, Sam Warburton, Geraint Thomas, football superstar Gareth Bale, who actually won the 2017 Champions League final with Real Madrid at Cardiff’s very own Principality Stadium, a truly world class venue.
The city’s sporting venues including the SSE Swalec Stadium, rugby/football stadiums, Sport Wales National Centre, ice hockey arena, white water rafting centre, and much much more, all play a massive part in the city’s lively atmosphere and sporting success. Cardiff also often draws in World stars for live music performances, theatre productions and major sporting occasions. This year the Volvo Ocean Race will stop off in Wales for the first time.
The Newport Dragons winger Hallam Amos, competed in the rugby sevens with other big names such as Justin Tipuric. As well as being a professional club and international rugby star Amos somehow finds the time to is study medicine at Cardiff University, following in the footsteps of other Welsh international rugby players Jamie Roberts and J. P. R. Williams.
Para-cyclist James Ball, is a double World Champion and competes with a visual impairment. James is our first medal winner of the games winning a silver medal with his guide Pete Mitchell, not bad for a man who only took up the sport in 2015. The village of Ponthir, Torfaen, 6 miles from Newport must be as proud as we are!
Newport City, in South East Wales has been an important port since medieval times, and a manufacturing hub since the industrial revolution. But the city has more to offer than a great history. The city has seen a recent rejuvenation of its shopping centre and in recent years has hosted the Ryder Cup in 2010 and the 2014 Nato summit at the 5 star Celtic Manor Resort.
There are more sporting facilities as well, the Newport International Sports Village (NISV) houses the Wales National Velodrome. The opening of the National Velodrome in Newport was a big step forward for cycling in Wales. It is an indoor facility of international standard and has helped move Welsh cycling onto a new level. You will also find South-East Wales regional pool, a Tennis Centre and at NISV.
[cited - Sporting Wales photography]
Rhythmic Gymnast Laura Halford, pictured, won team silver and individual bronze in the all-around and ball competitions in Glasgow 2014 and she is back perhaps stronger than ever. She is also a four-time British all-around rhythmic champion which highlights her ability and consistency the sport. Laura Halford's brother actually used to think rhythmic gymnastics was boring, until he saw her competing. (Wits and Gloucestershire Standard)
Born in Llanelli, Dai Green hardly needs an introduction. He is a former World, European, Diamond League and Commonwealth champion and one of Wales most recognisable athletes. He is back to compete at the Commonwealth Games and will draw upon his gold winning performance in Delhi 2010 for inspiration.
Llanelli is the largest town in Carmarthenshire in South West Wales, located between the Swansea area and the Pembrokeshire Coast, the UK’s only coastal National Park. Included amongst the regions sports facilities is the Llanelli Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy, which from the evidence, is doing a great job training and inspiring future generations. Other medal prospects include 15 year old Abigail Hanford and 19 year old Gemma Frizelle, who also train at the academy.
Catrin Jones – is just one of the weightlifting hopefuls trained in Holyhead. At only 18 she recently broke her own national record to win the Welsh title in January by lifting 155kg and is a UK champion as well. Born in the University town of Bangor, Catrin already has a Commonwealth youth gold under her belt and is now looking to add a senior medal.
Gareth Evans - Finally got his gold at the Commonwealth Games with a brilliant performance and technique! In one of our favourite moments of the games for the nail biting finalists and top celebrations, showing what it really means to win and represent Wales.
Holyhead is located on the island of Anglesey, Wales’ biggest island, which is connected to Bangor via the impressive Menai Suspension Bridge. Discover more about the North West Wales region on Wales.com.
The Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre has to be mentioned for its excellence in training so many outstanding Welsh weightlifters, managed by former gold medallist and Wales coach Ray Williams. Seth Casidsid, Gareth Evans, Hannah Powell and Catrin Jones are amongst Welsh athletes training here. Did you know 51 medals of the 270 medals ever won by Wales at the Commonwealth games, pre 2018, have come in weightlifting?
But don’t think for a minute that this article covers all of our Welsh Wonders! There are so many more, such as Wales's world bowls champion pair Jess Sims and Laura Daniels, Wales No1 table tennis player, Charlotte Carey, David Phelps in the shooting competition is our Disability Sport Wales Female Athlete of The Year, Olivia Breen.
[Gareth Evans, our first Gold medallist of the games]