Tour de Force! Geraint wins world's toughest cycle race!
When SportsAid Cymru Wales gave a support grant years ago to promising young cyclist Geraint Thomas, not even the most optimistic sport followers could have imagined that the Cardiff lad whizzzing around the Maindy Stadium track would one day win the Tour de France, arguably the most physically demanding event on the planet.
One of the 'Golden Era' pupils at Whitchurch High School, along with Gareth Bale and Sam Warburton, the modest yet almost superhuman cyclist had previously worked tirelessly and selflessly in support of Sky teammates on the Tour, notably four times winner Chris Frome.
All that changed when Geraint hung on to the leader's Yellow Jersey in successive stages of this year's Tour until it became clear that he wasn't going to be beaten! Since then the accolades and interview requests have poured in - our Geraint even made it on to the Graham Norton Show alongside Nicole Kidman, Stephen Fry and Take That!
Geraint has previously attended a SportsAid Cymru Wales fund-raising lunch in aid of other emerging athletes. We add our congratulations to those of the rest of the sporting world. See you soon, Geraint!
Backing from Barclays
The latest SportsAid Cymru Wales business/celebrity/media fund-raising lunch was held at Cardiff's award-winning Park Plaza Hotel on 9 November 2018, the day before the Wales v Australia international at the Principality Stadium. Phil Steele, BBC Wales sports presenter and renowned speaker, treated guests to his unique and humorous perspective on rugby and life in general! Our grateful thanks to Barclays Bank who match-funded the raffle, giving a handsome bost to overall fund-raising.
Ron Jones Stadium is up & running!
The immense contribution of SportsAid Cymru Wales Director Ron Jones to Welsh Athletics – and sport in general – was recognised in his home town of Aberdare in October 2018 where he opened a new £3 million stadium which bears his name.
Facilities at Rhondda Cynon Taf's Ron Jones Stadium include a running track with polymeric surfacing, floodlighting, changing facilities, meeting and office spaces and a 263-seat spectator stand.
Cwmaman-born Ron, MBE, a former Wales, British, European and World record-breaking sprinter (pictured second left) said he was delighted to return home to open the new athletics track and sporting facility, which could go on to be the “envy of Wales.”
Guests at the civic opening ceremony included his wife Linda and other members of Ron’s family, who still live in the Aberdare area, along with local para athlete Rhys Jones, who competed in two Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast, Australia 2018, and James Williams, Head of Operations at Welsh Athletics.
Mark Oliver, Chairman of SportsAid Cymru Wales, said “After everything Ron has achieved - and what he has put back into sport – this was a richly-deserved honour. It is a proud moment and the stadium is a fine tribute to one of Wales’ greatest athletes.”
Flying the flag for Wales
SportsAid Cymru Wales is delighted to feature three athletes who are reaching the very 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.
In the summer 2018 England Athletics Championships in Bedford, Lauren led the field with a PB of 59.21, ranking her 8th in Europe.
In May, she represented GB Juniors at the Loughborough International meet with a time that elevated her to UK No.1 in the women's u-20 400m hurdles. 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 80 young Welsh sportspeople get a helping hand from SACW
In total, 80 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.
CWG - Wales in best ever
Forty-three SportsAid Cymru Wales - supported competitors - including the entire women's gymnastics team - were in the Wales squad at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Star cyclist Eli Barker stormed to Gold in the 25km points race, fellow wheeler Lewis Oliva took Silver in the keirin, and Silvers also went to gymnast Latalia Bevan in the floor exercise and to Ben Llewellin in skeet shooting. In the pool it was the dynamic duo - Georgia Davies and Chloe Tutton - who won Bronze in the 50m backstroke and 200m breaststroke respectively and together in the 4x100 medley.
Team Wales athletes turned in a record-breaking performance at the Games. Around 200 athletes won 36 medals in 11 sports - 10 Golds, 12 silver and 14 bronze - the best ever return for Wales, finishing seventh in the medal table, ahead of Scotland in 8th and Nigeria 9th.
Sport Wales CEO Sarah Powell said: “The Welsh athletes have produced moments that will live long in the memory and raised the bar for high performance sport in Wales. Whilst a few of the sports have athletes who train and compete full time, most actually train around their jobs or student education - that is why our support is so vital."
Record-breaking performance from SportsAid Cymru Wales skier Menna Fitzpatrick
Congratulations to Menna Fitzpatrick (right) and her guide Jennifer Kehoe for their sensational success at the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea.
Despite having no vision in one eye and only 5% in the other, Menna, who received a SportsAid Cymru Wales grant to support and encourage her promising talent, took a Bronze, two Silver medals and then a Gold in the slalom - half Britain's total medal haul - with Army officer Jennifer guiding her via wi-fi headsets.
The 19-year-old former Cardiff girl, now based in Macclesfield, thus becomes one of Britain's most decorated Paralympians and was given the honour of carrying the GB flag at the closing ceremony.
SACW Director Ron Jones said "Menna and Jennifer have posted videos made with the RNIB of how much Menna can actually see as she rockets down the slopes at speeds of up to 60mph. That takes great skill but also a huge amount of courage, especially after a fall. We are all very proud of her."
Update: Delighted to see Menna receive an MBE for services to Paralympic Winter Sports in the Queen's Birthday Honours June 2018!