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Sporting legends and record breakers

Geraint Thomas winning the Criterium du Dauphine in 2018 - image credit

For a small nation, we have accomplished some remarkable achievements in the world of sport. Learn about some of our renowned sports legends and heroes of past, present and future…

Geraint Thomas MBE who rides for Team Sky, Wales and Great Britain is a 2 time gold medallist! In 2018 he became the first Welshman to win the Tour De France, one of sports toughest and greatest achievements. He also won the 70th Criterium du Dauphine in 2018.

Gareth Bale is a football superstar, recognised worldwide. The Cardiff born professional footballer broke records becoming the most expensive player when he transferred to Real Madrid in 2013 for a world record transfer fee of little over €100 million. He was part of the Wales squad that made it to the semi-finals at UEFA Euro 2016 and has now achieved the feat of being Wales' all time top scorer. He has also scored the winning goals in 2 Champions League finals and the 2014 Copa del Rey Final.

Footballer Jess Fishlock MBE, is the first Welsh player (female or male) to earn 100 caps for their country.

Gold medallist in the long jump in the 1964 Summer Olympics, Lynn Davies CBE (nicknamed 'Lynn the Leap') was the flag bearer for Great Britain's team in the 1968 Olympic games. He is the only Welsh athlete to have won gold in an individual Olympic track and field event.

Rugby player Gareth Edwards CBE was the first Welsh player to reach 50 caps for Wales. His 50th Test came at Twickenham at the start of Wales’ Grand Slam season. Edwards was part of 3 Grand Slam wins for Wales by the time he reached the age of 30 and played along other Welsh legends Mervyn Davies OBE, Barry John and J. P. R. Williams MBE.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, DL is one of the world’s most successful Paralympians. Dame Grey-Thompson won 16 Paralympic medals between 1988 and 2004 in wheelchair track events; ten of the medals were gold. She has also won gold in two world championships and has won the women's wheelchair race at the London Marathon on six occasions.

110m hurdler Colin Jackson CBE had a spectacular career in athletics. A former world record holder for 13 years; he was double world champion, four time European champion and twice Commonwealth champion. He is in the British Athletics Hall of Fame.

Cyclist Nicole Cooke MBE won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She followed this up with gold at the world championship road race just six weeks later, becoming the first cyclist in history to win Olympic and World Championship road race in the same year.

Joe Calzaghe CBE is a retired two-weight world boxing champion, who after 46 professional fights, and over 10 years as World Champion, remained undefeated. The Pride of Wales unified the WBA, WBO, IBF, WBO and Ring magazine super-middleweight titles and is regarded by many as the best British Boxer of all time.

Italian-Welshman Enzo Calzaghe MBE trained four Welsh world boxing champions, including his son Joe, which is incredible considering there have only been 12 ever.

Winger, Shane Williams MBE is the record Rugby Union try scorer for Wales, and is fourth on the international list of leading rugby union test try scorers of all time.

Ian Woosnam OBE is a legendary professional golfer, competing in Masters Tournaments around the world. Since victory at the Swiss Open in 1982 ‘Woosie’ has won more professional golf tournaments than any other British golfer. He has achieved a staggering 47 worldwide tournament victories, including the illustrious US Masters at Augusta in 1991. In 1987 he became the first player to win £1 million in prize money in a single year!

Rugby League Billy Boston MBE is ranked as one of the best players to have ever graced the sport. He is the second highest try scorer of all time including 478 in 488 games for Wigan and has a Championship win, 3 Challenge Cups and the 1960 World Cup with Great Britain to his name. 

Footballer John Charles CBE is considered by many to have been the greatest all-round footballer ever to come from Britain. He was world class in both centre-half or centre-forward. When he joined the Italian club Juventus he broke transfer fee records at the time. He was also one of the first British professional players to be signed for an overseas team.

Gareth Bale’s school mate Sam Warburton OBE MStJ was an International Rugby player. He gained his first senior cap for Wales in 2009. Since then he has captained the side and made more than 90 appearances for Wales. He was also selected to captain the British and Irish Lions tours in 2013 and 2017.

Ian Rush MBE  is the all-time leading goal scorer for Liverpool Football Club, having scored a total of 346 goals in all competitions during his two spells. For Wales, Rush scored 28 goals between 1980 and 1996 and is the nations 2nd highest goal scorer ever. 

Ray Reardon was the number 1 snooker star for much of the 1970's as he racked up an incredible 6 World Championship victories, defeating other snooker legends Alex Higgins, Cliff Thorburn and  Fred Davis along the way. 

Mark Williams MBE is a 3 time World champion snooker player and he achieved the incredible feat of winning the Triple Crown of snooker trophies in the same year 2002/2003, which includes the World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters. Only two other players have ever done that. He won the 2018 World Championship at the age of 43 by producing some of his best snooker of his career.

S7 classification swimmer, David Roberts CBE is an eleven-time Paralympic gold medallist and is considered one of Great Britain's most successful Paralympians ever.

Helen Jenkins (formerly Tucker) is arguably the greatest British female triathlete ever, having won 3 World championship triathlon gold medals, amongst winning and placing in a number of other elite events.

Non Evans MBE is a unique athlete. Not only did she captain the Welsh Rugby side scoring 489 points and 64 tries in her 87 appearances but she also represented Wales in weightlifting, wrestling and judo at two Commonwealth Games.

Sir David Brailsford CBE is one of the most successful cycling coaches in the history of the sport. Formerly the performance director of British Cycling he led Team GB to 18 gold medals over 3 Olympic games and he is currently the general manager of Team Sky, who have dominated the sports elite races in recent years. 

Ryan Giggs OBE was voted the UK's Sports Personality of the Year in 2009  and has been considered as Manchester United’s greatest football player. during his career he helped Man United win 13 league titles, 2 Champions League victories and 4 FA Cups. He now coaches the Men's national team. 

Jonathan Davies, OBE is  a well known former Rugby League and Rugby Union star and commentator. Playing as a Fullback, Wing and Centre during his career he was famed for his ability to create and score tries and punish teams with  the boot, point scoring. He is now one of the most recognisable commentators in the UK. 

Marathon runner Steve Jones set a previous world record for the marathon in Chicago in 1984 with a time of 2:08:05 and World half marathon time of 61:14 in 1985. Amazingly he held the British record for 33 years with a time of 2:07:13. He also won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 10,000m in 1986.

Nigel Owens MBE holds the Rugby Union record for most matches as an international referee. He became a record breaker when he took charge of the Fiji v Tonga World Cup qualifying match in June 2016, which was his 71st match as an international referee with many more to come.

Jade Jones MBE won Great Britain and Northern Ireland's first Olympic Gold medal in Taekwondo in the London 2012 Olympic Games, then in the Rio 2016 she defended her title bringing home Olympic Gold for a second time.

400m hurdler Dai Greene from Felinfoel is a European, Commonwealth and World Champion claiming gold medals in 2010 and 2011.

Welsh rugby prop Gethin Jenkins has made an impressive 129 appearances for Wales making him the most capped Welsh player and has 5 caps for the British and Irish Lions. He has played in 4 Championship winning Welsh sides, including the Grand Slams of 2005, 2008 and 2012.

Cyclist Elinor Barker MBE is now an Olympic champion, 2 time world and 3 time European champion in the team pursuit, as well as a world champion and Commonwealth champion in the points race.