Coronavirus Pandemic - we'll be back ASAP!
In common with all other organisations, SportsAid Cymru Wales has had to suspend face-to-face fundraising activities until restrictions are lifted by the Government. Many of the young sportspeople whose exploits would normally fill these pages are having to train alone, with makeshift facilities and few, if any, events in which to compete. We look forward to a release of pent-up energy in the not-too-distant future! Stay safe in the meantime!
Jamie Clarke Stuns Snooker World
SportsAid Cymru Wales is proud to record that one of its grantees, Jamie Clarke, has become the latest Welsh sportsperson to make a mark on the international stage – this time in snooker.
Despite being the lowest ranked player at the event, Jamie, aged 25, pulled off a shock (August 2020) win beating world number four Mark Allen at the World Snooker Championships in the Crucible, Sheffield – the first time Jamie has played in the iconic venue.
He won the match 10-8, despite the experienced Allen scoring five centuries, before losing to eventual semi-finalist Anthony McGill in the next round.
Said Jamie “I was euphoric, I was completely stunned and shocked. I never thought I would beat Mark but I knew that my game was good enough if I got it right and could hold up under pressure."
Jamie, whose victory included a career-high break of 136, added "I never thought I would get to play at the Crucible, I never thought I was good enough.”
SportsAid Cymru Wales supported Jamie, from Llanelli, when he was an unknown 16-year-old showing promise.
SACW Director Ron Jones said “This is what SportsAid was set up to do – provide a helping hand to talented young Welsh sportspeople. It is immensely rewarding when they go on to achieve success at the highest level.”
Another one right on cue...!
Say hello to another rising star of Welsh snooker - a sport in which we have a fine record. Liam Davies of Merthyr, a SACW grantee, is consistently beating older rivals and looks set for a bright future at the baize tables.
Liam finished the season as Welsh no.1 and Welsh Champion at u-14, u-16 and u-18! He finished third in the u-21 group and lost in the final of the Welsh u-21 Championship, a magnificent run of form.
Incredibly, Liam has just turned 14. He practices at least five hours a day, every day at Scala Snooker Club,Merthyr
His proud family say “Liam has lots still to learn, but we’re sure with his dedication and talent, one day his dream will come true!” Sounds like it is already, Liam!
The ever-popular SportsAid Cymru Wales Golf Society is open to new members and team entries for specific competitions on courses around Wales. More details under the Golf Society tab above. If you want to join in and have fun - and help raise money for young sportspeople at the same time - contact Jayne on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in the swing of things!
SportsAid Cymru Wales Golf Society members, teed off with months of Covid-inspired inactivity, descended in force on Glamorganshire GC as soon as the charity got the remainder of its 2020 season back on course.
In great conditions, 40 golfers took to the fairways with performances surprisingly good considering the long lay-off. The day’s top prize, the Caprice Cup – a trophy sponsored by former Penarth restaurant owner Eddie Rabaiotti, a former SACW governor – was won by Stephen Owen (pictured) with a very impressive score of 43 points, 25 of which were scored on the back nine! Runner up was Doug Lane with 39 points and third was Ioan Rees with 38.
Another event, held at Creigiau GC on 18 September instead of Bryn Meadows, was won by Martin Richardson with 40 points, ahead of Jake Price and Brian Blakemore.
For more info on the SACW Golf Society and to get involved, click on the tab at the top of the page.
Harriet Lockley - Golf
Wales seems to be particularly well-blessed at the moment with a number of young golfers who are showing tremendous promise against tough opposition. Here we take a look at three, starting with Harriet Lockley, aged 15.
In a Covid-shortened season, Harriet still managed to make her mark, notably in the Faldo Series Welsh Qualifier where, competing against 260 others (93 girls) she won the overall event (U21’s) with rounds of 70, 73, 72 for a -7 gross finish. This meant she qualified for a trip to Dubai to play in the final, until Covid forced the event cancellation.
In the West of England U16 Championship, a 36-hole event in Cheltenham in September, Harriet beat the 60 other players carding -3 gross for the competition including a -6 gross (66) second round, which is a new course record!
Harriet was delighted to qualify for the R&A Womens Amateur Championships – the largest ladies amateur event in the world. “I qualified in 37th place after the Strokeplay Section (+4 overall) and won my first match play round against a top-50 World ranked player, but I lost in the last 32. I was 4 down after 12 so I was proud to battle back to lose 2&1 on the 17th.”
She added “Many thanks to SACW for the grant – I feel really proud to be now known as a SportsAid Cymru Wales athlete. The grant will help me achieve my ambitions in golf and allow me to represent Wales to the best of my ability.”
Darcey Harry - Golf
Darcey, aged 17, from Dinas Powis, is a Welsh and GB & Ireland international, currrently ranked in the top 80 in Europe for Women's amateur golf and is knocking on the door of the top 500 in the world.
She had an incredible run of results in the 2019 season, including the Fairhaven Trophies Championship (2nd), British girls u16 open championship R&A (5th), British girls u18 open amateur at the R&A (9th), English women’s open amateur (6th), Junior orange bowl international championship (8th) and the Henry Cooper junior championship (4th).
She came second in the Justin Rose Junior Telegraph event in Portugal and competed in two professional events, the Justin Rose Ladies Series and the Sion Bebb invitational (2nd overall and top amateur.) She also finished T17th at the British Women’s amateur championship 2020.
Darcey’s involvement with the Welsh team has taken her all over the world - Canada for Junior World Girls Championship 2019, South American Amateur in Chile January 2020, Sweden and Spain for the European Girls Team Championship and Norway and the Czech Republic for the European Young Masters, both in 2018 & 2019 .
Darcey said “I was delighted with my SportsAid Cymru Wales grant. I can’t wait to put it towards my coaching expenses. It is always such an honour representing my country and wearing the Welsh dragon.”
Another golf rising star - Lea-Anne Bramwell
Lea-Anne, aged 19, from Pensarn, returned triumphant from La Linea, southern Spain in 2019 where she was the only lady to qualify for the finals of the Junior European Golf Open in the over 18’s section. She had some fantastic qualifying rounds and went into the final against the men with a total of 6 under par. She shot level par in the final to win the tournament by a clear 9 shots!
The Junior tournament was filmed by Sky Sports and Lea-Anne was shown receiving her trophy from – and being interviewed by - Nick Dougherty, Sky Sports Golf presenter (pictured with Lea-Anne) on the Sky Sports Golf channel on Sunday 8th December. Lea-Anne, who has thanked SACW for her grant support, also won the Senior Ladies Sports Person of the Year award for Conwy County. You are doing us proud, Lea-Anne!
Darcey-Jane Williams -
Snow & Wake Boarding
Normal life can be full of twists and turns, but if you are Darcey-Jane Williams, you spend a lot of your life turning them into a physically-demanding art form!
Darcey, aged 13, from Bridgend – ‘DJ’ to her friends - is making a name for herself in both snowboarding and wakeboarding. She’s also a very good swimmer.
Snowsport Cymru Wales said “DJ is already hitting the massive jumps and kickers and competing at international entry level events in Europe. Spending 18 weeks on snow last season DJ put herself on the podium at several of the Valley Ralley events in Austria.”
A Covid-affected programme last year saw Darcey, one of SportsAid Cymru Wales’ grantees, finishing fourth (U13) in her first full-cable wakeboard competition, a similar placing in the U15 Girls in the GB ‘virtual-kicker’ challenge, capped by her first Gold Medal, at the same venue, where her ‘back-to-blind’ performance wowed the judges.
In November, in a full-cable comp at Liquid Leisure Windsor, Europe’s largest aqua park, DJ moved up into the ‘open women’s’ category, competing against team GB-ranked riders and finished in an amazing fourth place. She has now secured professional coaching with three- times world champion Nick Davies.
Orla Davies – Triathlon
For a young athlete so full of potential on land or in the water, it is little surprise that 17-year-old Orla Davies from Mold has her sights set on triathlon glory.
Orla first became ‘one to watch’ when she took Gold and Silver in the 200m butterfly and the 800m freestyle at the Welsh National Swimming Championships in 2015. The following year she became the first 13-year-old girl to be accepted into the Welsh Triathlon Academy after achieving Gold Standard Plus Level in an assessment.
Over the next four years, as well as Silver medalling in the Welsh Open Water Championships (u-14) and taking Bronze in the inaugural long-distance (1500m) freestyle event for females at the Welsh Nationals, Orla became a familiar sight on the podium at Welsh national cross-country championships and as a Welsh team member in both sports.
In 2018 Orla took part in Swimathon (UK), helping to raise thousands of pounds for Comic Relief & SportsAid. For the second year running, she becomes the fastest age group swimmer & the fastest, overall, female swimmer (5K – 200m lengths) in the UK.
Orla is now immersed in training and competition with the Welsh Triathlon Team and in 2019 found herself alongside the world-famous Brownlee brothers at the British Home Nations Summer Training Camp.
Orla is now studying for A Levels at Mold Alun School. Her goals for 2021 include selection for the Welsh U20 Cross Country team and to make the move up from 'Youth' to the more demanding 'Junior' category in the British Triathlon Youth & Junior Super Series. Watch this space!
Eli Barker triumphs again
Congratulations to Elinor Barker, supported by SportsAid Cymru Wales in her early career, who won the women's points race in the world championships in Berlin on St David's Day 2020 - her 11th gold medal at Olympic, World and European level. Eli was also one of the fab four British riders who took Silver in the Team Pursuit.
Bethany Bennett - Cyclo Cross
...and while we are talking about success on two wheels, what about young Bethany Bennett of Carmarthen's Towy Riders, who, among an impressively long list of achievements, has been the U-14 winner or runner-up in 11 consecutive Welsh Cyclo-Cross League races between September and December 2018.
SACW first supported Bethany when she was 11, after she was nominated as "one to watch" by the sport's talent-spotters.
Bethany's dad, Julian, said "Firstly can I thank all at SportsAid Cymru Wales , we are very proud that Bethany has been selected for this kind grant which will help very much."
Praise for athletes - and SportsAid - from HRH
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, who became Patron of SportsAid UK in 2013, has praised the dedication shown by young athletes, their families and supporters in a special message celebrating SportsAid Week 2019. The Duchess has met many SportsAid-supported young competitors who will be aiming to represent Great Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The latest survey by Nunki Solutions reveals that the average spend for a SportsAid athlete annually has risen from £5,022 to £7,089 over the last decade. Travel is the greatest expenditure – athletes travel around 1,500 miles a month - followed by accommodation. The charity supported 1,058 athletes, mostly aged between 12 and 18, in 2018/19, meaning the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ had to find more than £8m to support their sons and daughters throughout the last 12 months.
The Duchess said “The staff, supporters and partners of SportsAid have played a pivotal role in many of their journeys by ensuring that all young aspiring athletes have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Flying the flag for Wales
SportsAid Cymru Wales is delighted to feature three athletes who are reaching the top of their sports on an international stage.
Emily Shawyer -
Since we last featured Emily in the exciting new international sport of Target Sprint, which combines shooting (air rifles) at knock-down targets interspersed with, typically, three laps of a 400 metre course, she has scaled even greater heights.
Following a hectic few months competing in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in the UK, in Target Sprint and 10m air pistol shooting, Emily has emerged as Welsh and British Champion, Junior International Champion, British Junior Record Holder (u-21) having won for GB an ISSF Individual Bronze Medal, and ISSF Team Silver Medal and a Double World Championship Medal. To top it all, she passed all her GCSE A Levels with A*, A and B grades - and was interviewed on BBC Breakfast by Mike Bushell!
Emily said "It is such a confidence boost to think that I have the support of SportsAid Cymru Wales when balancing my GCSEs with training and competing in both my shooting disciplines.
"The grant will be a massive help towards my equipment, training and competition costs. A big thank you to all the organisations and individuals that donate to SportsAid Cymru Wales and thank you for the encouragement and recognition that you give to help young sports people."
Megan Surman - Tumbling
Megan, from Swansea, is dynamite in the incredibly demanding sport of tumbling.
Megan pulled off her greatest performance ever when she won the 2018 Trampoline and Tumbling World Age Group Championships in St Petersburg, Russia. In her words: "I honestly still can't quite believe ii - it hasn't sunk in yet! I went to the competition aiming to land my runs and hopefully make the final. After the prelims I made the final in third place. In the finals I scored a PB of 33.900 which means I am now the Women's 17-21 World Age Group Tumbling Champion!"
Currently on a scholarship with Warwick University, Megan said "Thank you so much SACW for awarding me a grant - it is most appreciated." To see Megan in spectacular action, here's a Welsh Gymnastics post https://www.welshgymnastics.org/news/2018/11/19/huge-tumbling-achievements-for-medal-winners-megan-and-jade/
- 400m Hurdles
SACW athlete19-year-old Lauren Williams of Caersws, is tipped as one of the most exciting prospects in British athletics.
Coming back from injury, the Maldwyn Harriers and Swansea Harriers hurdler keeps getting faster and faster, setting new personal bests in the toughest of competitions.
Lauren broke the Welsh Junior 400m hurdles record and set a huge personal best at the European Athletics Championships curtain-raiser in Berlin in August 2018. The Bath University student was competing for GB U-20s in an international match against Germany and France at the city’s Olympic Stadium. The managing and marketing student won the 400m hurdles in a time of 58.09s – knocking more than a second off her previous best time of 59.21 set in the summer 2018 England Athletics Championships in Bedford.
In 2019, Lauren's successes included first place over 400m in the England Athletics U20 Championships, two firsts in the CAU inter-county (senior) Championships, and wins in the 400m and 60m Welsh Senior Champs in Cardiff in July. Said Lauren "I would like to say a huge thank you to SportsAid Cymru Wales for your support which has helped considerably with travel and competition entry fees.etc."
Another 91 get a helping hand from SACW
In total, 91 young sportspeople in Wales received grants from SportsAid Cymru Wales in the latest round of applications. SACW and its supporters maintain a proud 34-year tradition of being able to award grants to all applicants who meet the set criteria. Click on the Athletes & Awards tab and then Recent Award Recipients (top of left column) to see the list.