On the Podium - previous news from                    SportsAid Cymru Wales...

 

Sport - a great healer!

 

Para athlete Claire Williams won a huge ovation from guests at  SportsAid Cymru Wales fund-raising lunches in Cardiff and Carmarthen with a grippingly honest account of how her love of sport has helped rescue her from ‘a very dark place.’

 

Claire with SACW President Kim Howells

 

Claire, who is partially sighted, won a bronze medal in the F12 discus at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, her third Paralympics. She said  her career in sport had led her to believe that she was strong and resilient, but when her personal life took a bad turn last year she found herself feeling very down.

 

Claire, aged 30, of Carmarthen - who received a SportsAid Asda grant early in her career - said she spent months suffering with anxiety, which she described as the most frightening thing she’d ever experienced. Then one day she decided to go for a short run.

 

She started running every day and gradually got stronger, mentally and physically, winning back control of her life, her confidence and self-belief. Her progress led her to the Cardiff Half Marathon and then a place in the 2018 London Marathon. "It has helped me turn my life around" she said.

 

CYG in the Bahamas!

 

Eight SportsAid Cymru Wales-suppported athletes were among the 39-strong Wales team (pictured above) who took part in the Commonwealth Youth Games  in the Bahamas in July 2017.

 

Sixty-four nations from around the globe sent teams, with all competitors aged 16 or 17, to the Thomas A Robinson Stadium complex in Nassau for an unforgettable competition which saw the SACW contingent proudly bringing home seven medals.

 

James Tomlinson and Sarah Omoregie won Silvers in the discus and shot respectively; in the pool Lewis Fraser took Gold and Bronze in the 100m & 50m fly with Medi Harris (more under Athletes & Awards) securing Silver and Bronze in the 50m & 200m backstroke. Morgan Cross won a Bronze in the tennis mixed doubles.

 

Completing the SACW line-up were Hannah Sloan, Rebecca Sutton and Megan Allison in swimming.

Olympic stars turn out for SportsAid!

SportsAid Cymru Wales Director Ron Jones (left) with Jazz Carlin, SACW Vice-President Ian Waters, Becky James, Park Plaza Hotel Manager Margaret Waters and Richard Gealy, Secretary of SACW's West Wales Committee

 

Wales swimming star Jazz Carlin and track cycling sensation Becky James - both double Silver Medallists at Rio - were the chief guests at SportsAid Cymru Wales' Spring sports/celebrity lunch at the Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff.

 

The Rio heroes were interviewed by award-winning author, journalist and broadcaster Carolyn Hitt in front of a sell-out 120 guests after former Wales scrum-half Brynmor Williams had entertained with his take on the Wales v England rugby international at the Principality Stadium the next day. Brian Davies, Elite Performance Manager at Sport Wales, also spoke movingly about the sheer grit and commitment of some of the Welsh Paralympians at Rio.

 

A highlight of the afternoon was the handover of a cheque to complete a whopping £19,000 round of fund-raising by Richard Gealy, Secretary, on behalf of SACW's West Wales Committee - the proceeds of an incredible effort by the hard-working Carmarthen-based group.

 

Brynmor, whose son Lloyd is one of Wales' pool of talented scrum-halves, wasn't the only proud rugby dad in the room; also present was Delme Owens, long-standing supporter of SACW, whose son Ken was about to go head-to-head with England captain and hooker Dylan Hartley the next day! (Unfortunately, Becky's boyfriend, George North, couldn't shake off his injury in time to take the field).

 

SACW Director Ron Jones - himself a double Olympian - said "We are so grateful to Welsh sporting stars who give up their time to help us help the next generation who, we hope, will go on to make Wales proud."

 

Footnote: Becky James' younger sister, Megan, aged 17, also a SACW grant recipient, pulled off a spectacular win for GB in the Junior Women's section of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup at Fort William, Scotland in June 2017 - the biggest race of her career so far! 

Megan sent a message to SACW: "Thank you very much for your support this year - it will help me very much to achieve my goals in 2017 and beyond. I can't thank you enough." We think you just did, Megan

 

We will never forget Rio!

 

What a performance by Team GB at the Rio Olympics. SportsAid Cymru Wales is proud that six of the Welsh athletes competing at Rio were supported by SACW in the early part of their careers - including three Gold medallists. The six are:

 

Geraint Thomas (Cycling) *  Elinor Barker (Cycling – Track)

Ieuan Lloyd (Swimming)   *  Chloe Tutton (Swimming)

Hannah Mills (Sailing)       *  Jade Jones (Taekwondo)

 

First Gold went to Elinor (second left below). The 21-year-old from Cardiff was part of the fab four - with Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Katie Archibald - who won the Team Pursuit in the Velodrome, smashing the world record (three times!)

The Hannah, aged 28 (left) from Dinas Powis, with her crew Saskia Clark, sorted out their 'unfinished business' - Silver in London 2012 - by sailing to Gold with a race to spare in the A470 class at the Marina del Gloria.

 

Jade (below) made history when she became the first Welsh woman to defend an Olympic title - repeating her world-beating performance on the Taekwondo mat to take Gold, just as she did in London 2012!

 

Eleri Farr - Archery

 

"I would like to thank you for your generous grant. With this grant I purchased some important equipment, a pair of limbs and high quality arrows, which has helped me in the outdoor season that has just passed.

 

"Since receiving your grant I qualified for the Welsh Junior Team at the British Junior Target Championships, where individually I achieved second place. I also qualified for the Welsh Senior Team, whilst still a junior archer, and represented Wales at the British Target Championships, competing against archers who had sometimes been shooting since before I was born.

 

"Individually I achieved fourth in this competition. I am also the current Welsh Outdoor Champion. I have also competed at the Archery GB Youth Festival, a week-long event designed to simulate international competition, where I competed against Britain's top international junior archers. Here I also achieved fourth place and also qualified to compete in a three-man team at a demonstration event in the Archery GB National Series Final. The event was in the international head-to-head format and I was a member of the winning team.

 

"During this outdoor season I have also achieved the scores necessary to qualify for a selection event which will give me the chance of a place in the British Team at the European Youth Championships in Romania.

 

"I would like to thank you again for the grant you so generously provided me with, and hopefully you can see how much help it has been."  Eleri Farr

Big Jim throws his weight behind SACW!

 

Former rugby league giant Jim Mills looks big enough to hold up the ceiling at the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen - which is just as well, because he nearly brought the house down with his address to a sports/celebrity fund-raising lunch organised by SACW's West Wales Committee.

 

In the 1960s and 70s, Aberdare-born Jim - 6'4" and 17st 13lbs in his prime - was a fearsome Wales and Great Britain front row forward who played his club rugby with Halifax, Salford, Bradford Northern, Widnes and Workington and for North Sydney in Australia.

 

More than 180 people attended the lunch which is expected to raise around £5,000 for SACW. West Wales Committee Chairman David Butler said "We have a large, fabulous group of supporters, many representing businesses and professional practices in the area, who make this event one of the highlights of the social calendar. Sport is enjoying its highest-ever profile, particularly after our success in the Olympics and Paralympics."

 

Pictured above at the event are (from left) John-Eirian Davies of BJP Auctioneers and Valuers, Dewi Jones, Committee Treasurer, Catherine Ings (see below), actor Julian Lewis-Jones, Linda Chamberlain-Jones and Ron Jones from SACW, Jim Mills, Barbara Cobain, SACW's North Wales Director Alan Hughes, along with David Butler, Richard Gealy, Peter Evans and Keri Cosslett from the West Wales Committee.

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Putting the fun in fund-raising…

 

Welsh actor Julian Lewis-Jones helped SportsAid Cymru Wales put the fun in fund-raising when he regaled the audience at one of SACW’s sporting celebrity lunches with tales from behind the scenes in the worlds of film and TV.

 

Julian and his wife Kim, from Nantgaredig, shared a table with former Pontypridd MP and Government Minister Kim Howells, Commonwealth boxing champion Nicky Piper, award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author Carolyn Hitt, Sport Wales Head of Performance Brian Davies and former Wales outside half David Evans, now the Welsh Government’s International Sports Events Manager.

 

Julian, who has played a variety of roles from a Russian spy in Spooks to the head of Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard in Invictus, as well as Karl Morris in Stella, took part in a hilarious Q&A session with Nicky Piper, organised by SACW Vice-President Ian Waters, whose wife, Margaret, is manager of the renowned Park Plaza Hotel, venue for the event.

 

The occasion was given added meaning because Julian’s uncle, the late Nigel Harrison-Rees, was a founding member of SACW’s West Wales committee which continues to provide tremendous support to the charity.

 

Kim Howells started the ball rolling when he presented SACW Director Ron Jones, Captain of Britain’s 1968 Olympic Team in Mexico, with an oil painting he had just completed of Ron’s childhood home in Aberdare, where Ron first discovered he could run fast!

 

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Investing in the future of Welsh Sport

 

At a previos SportsAid Cymru Wales fund-raising lunch, organised by the charity’s hard-working West Wales Committee in Carmarthen, SACW Administrator Linda Chamberlain-Jones outlined the achievements of some of the region's young sportspeople who are doing Wales proud with their commitment and progress. They were:

 

Daniel Clarke aged 13, of Carmarthen (Badminton).  Daniel is the current U13 Champion. At the Junior Welsh Nationals he also took the Mixed Doubles title with partner Lowri Hart. Daniel is following in his elder brother Jac’s footsteps – Jac (also a SACW grant recipient) competes for Wales at U17 level in badminton and is now coaching the junior players.

 

Bethany Bennett aged 11, of Llanelli (Road & Track Cycling). Bethany was ranked GB number one at under 10. Dedicated to her sport, she competes most weekends, has many midweek races and trains every Wednesday evening at the National Velodrome in Newport. She is currently training hard to prepare for the 2016 European Junior Tour of Assen in Holland, a challenging six-day event. (Bethany has an inspiring role model in Nicole Cooke, Beijing Olympic Gold Medallist in 2008, whom SportsAid Cymru Wales supported when she too was a young schoolgirl).  

 

Emily Shawyer aged 14, of Carmel (Shooting - Air Pistol). At just 14 years of age Emily is an exceptional talent. She recently competed for Wales in Luxembourg and the Netherlands qualifying for two Junior U21 Finals. In the last few months Emily qualified for the Finals at the British Championships, won Bronze at the North Wales Championships and became Scottish Junior Champion.

 

Emily Stradling aged 16, of Porthcawl (Basketball). Emily has recently been named Captain of the Wales U18 team that will be traveling to Georgia this summer (2016) to compete in the European Championships. Emily said “I am over the moon that I will be receiving financial support from Sportsaid Cymru Wales. I know it will help my family greatly in funding my tournaments abroad this summer. Thank you very much”.

 

Jac Perry aged 18, of Llanelli (Gymnastics - Tumbling). Jac had a very successful 2015 coming 4th in the British Championships and he was a member of the GB Team that came 2nd in the French Championships in November. He is on track to be selected for his first World Championships later this year. This is the third year that SportsAid Cymru Wales has supported Jac.

 

Hana Davies aged 15, of Llanelli (Gymnastics). Hana is a very talented gymnast coming 1st Overall (1st Beam, 2nd Bars, 4th Vault) in the British National Challenge Cup in July last year. Welsh Gymnastics Head of Performance & Excellence, Jo Coombs, expects Hana to be selected to compete for Wales during 2016. Hana’s home is in Llanelli but, along with her sister Carys, who is also a talented gymnast and a SportsAid Cymru Wales recipient this year, lives and goes to school in Cardiff during the week so she has access to Welsh Gymnastics top coaches and facilities.

 

Lewis Fraser aged 15, of Swansea (Swimming). Lewis is GB Champion at 100m breaststroke and GB No.3 at 200m, competing at Age 15 level. In 2014 he was GB 1 and 2 competing at Age 14 level.  He is a member of the Welsh National Development Squad (Youth) and his ambition this year is to retain his GB title at the British Championships in Glasgow. This is the second year that SportsAid Cymru Wales has supported Lewis.

 

One of the highlights of the event, which is expected to raise more than £5,000 for SACW funds, was an address from Steven Jones of the Football Association of Wales. Steve donated for auction a ball signed by the fabulous Wales squad who qualified for the Euros. May turn out to be a better investment than £50 on Leicester!

 

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At SACW, we love to hear from grantees about how they are getting on. Here are some more letters...

Ben Llewellin -  Skeet Clay Shooting & Rally Driver

"Dear Sports Aid Wales, thank you very much for the funding, this has helped me train more which has greatly improved my performance. This weekend I was competing in the UK Championships where I shot my personal best of 116-125 that gave me Gold in juniors. I beat all the top GB juniors which has placed me well to gain my goal of representing Team GB in the European and World Championships this year." Ben Llewellin

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                  Sam Pearce – Cricket

 

"Dear SACW -  Thank you ever so much for the £500 grant; it will help greatly in the costs involved in helping to get my son Sam to where he wants to be.

Last Friday he attended fitness testing at Somerset CCC in Taunton as part of the South & West of England selection process. All results from his matches for Bridgend Town 1st team can be found on the Bridgend Town Play Cricket web site.

 He is currently on tour playing a 2 day game against Yorkshire at Ossett, and has been picked to play for the South & West of England under15 in a trial game against Devon under 17 in Seaton Devon next Friday. I’ll keep you posted!"  Rob Pearce

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Emily-Jane Else - Swimming

Emily-Jane Else from Swansea won Bronze in both the 100 Freestyle and the 100 Breaststroke at the Cerebral Palsy National Championships 2015. She also made the qualifying times to compete at the British Para-Swimming International Meet Glasgow in the 50 Free. She says:

“I learned to swim at the age of four and progressed onto competitive swimming at the age of 6. From there I moved up the squads in my local club.

“My sporting hero is Liz Johnson who has cerebral palsy like me. I have met her many times and I look up to the things she has achieved in her sporting career.

“On average I train six times a week, including a morning session before school. I would like to thank SportsAid Cymru Wales for the funding which has helped me with my training fees, swimming equipment and accommodation/travel costs going to competitions throughout the UK.” Emily-Jane Else

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                                              Harry Hillman - All-rounder!

 

One of Wales brightest young sporting hopefuls has added his thanks to SportsAid Cymru Wales for the support which has helped him catch the eye of national coaches.

 

Harry Hillman, aged 17, from Cardiff has the makings of a star future decathlete – excelling at a host of individual events including hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault, 100m and shot.

 

At the Welsh Outdoor Athletics Championships last year he bagged Silver and a PB in the U-17 100m hurdles. He then moved over to the pole vault, where, despite recent shoulder surgery, he took Gold with a PB of 3.85m. As if that wasn’t enough, Harry dragged his aching limbs to the long jump pit and still managed a creditable fourth in a competitive field.

 

A week later Harry was in action at the Welsh Schools Athletics Championships, where he won Gold in both the hurdles and pole vault, against the same opponents who beat him previously. Another Gold followed when he helped Cardiff and Vale Schools to a Championship record of 43.14 in the 4x100m.

 

It was then up to Glasgow for the Schools International Athletics Board meet, where he took a bronze with a PB in the hurdles, not long after a gruelling two-hour u-18 pole-vault competition in which he came fifth. Two weeks later he took a Silver in the same event at the Celtic Games.

 

 Said Harry “I have been delighted with my progress and am now very much looking forward to competing in the new Under 20 age group and have already started putting in the hard work. Thank you SportsAid Cymru Wales for your support!”

 

Scott Simpson, National Performance Coach for Welsh Athletics, said “Harry is still very young but remains one of the most talented prospects in Wales”

 

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SportsAid Duo Excel at the Euros

 

Two athletes supported by SACW turned in cracking performances at the European Youth Championships in Tblisi, Georgia in July 2016.

 

Jake Heyward, aged 17, from Cardiff, took on the best u-18 athletes in Europe over 1500m and stormed to a thrilling Gold medal. He has improved his personal best this year to 3.46.50! 

 

Meanwhile James Tomlinson, aged 16, from Pembrokeshire, improved his personal best in the discus to 58.96m – a new Welsh National Record (previously held by Brett Morse).  James reached the final and came 6th in an exceptionally strong field.  Congratulations to both.

Callum Davidson-Guild - Yachting

Perhaps it’s because Wales has more than 2000 kms of coastline, but we do seem to produce more than our fair share of top sailors. At the tender age of 13, Callum Davidson-Guild is certainly repaying the faith SportsAid Cymru Wales has shown in him with a string of impressive performances.

“I am writing to say thank you for the recent support given to me by SportsAid Cymru Wales. I’ve already competed in a number of events this year and at Easter attended the Magic Marine Easter Egg Regatta in Holland as part of the GBR Team - after a hard 4 days racing I finished 5th from over 280 sailors from around Europe.

 

“I have just returned from the Optimist GBR Team Selections in Weymouth where I finished 2nd overall and have been selected to attend the Optimist World Championships in Thailand as part of the GBR Team (only the top 5 sailors were selected).  This is a massive honour for me. It cost my parents £3,300 for me to be part of the team and your grant will be going straight towards the cost.

 

“I’m hoping to finish 1st in the UK rankings this year and aiming to win the UK Nationals - I’ll let you know how I get on!” Callum Davidson-Guild

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Jethro Dela Vega -Tennis

 

"We would like to express our gratitude to SportsAid Wales Cymru for giving our son Jethro a grant. This is a big help for his tennis development.

 

"Jethro won the Winter National Tour Finals 10U last March at the National Tennis Centre in London (pictured). Also, the Lawn Tennis Association put him through the AEGON Future Stars Programme. This is a very good start for Jethro on his journey to reach his tennis dream. 

 

"He is now starting playing in international tennis tournaments. He reached the quarter finals in both his first and second tournaments in France last February and April."   Bim & Ana Dela Vega

William Hall - Yachting

"I just wanted to say thank you for the cheque for £500 that SportsAid Wales kindly donated to my son William Hall. William is 12 years old, lives in Penarth and sails an Optimist dinghy.

"He has had a great year and recently topped this off sailing at Braasemermeere in Holland over Easter, where he finished 4th out of a field of 209, which involved sailors from 11 countries including the USA. He was top Brit.

"Last week he sailed in Marseille with four other Welsh sailors and finished 17th in the Gold Fleet (including one win). This week he heads to Weymouth for the British Selections - fingers crossed!! Once again many thanks for your kind support on behalf of William and myself - the money will certainly help him attend more events!"     Phil Hall

 

Non Dingle - Canoeist

Thank you very much for the SportsAid Cymru Wales grant! It is allowing me to compete in Europe at some of the canoe slalom ECA cup races this summer. The grant helps pay for travel, accommodation, coaching and water time.  I raced at Grandtully in Scotland and in the Lee Valley (Olympic Course) premier race (including GB junior selection). Both these races were massive learning curves for me and although they didn’t go to plan it enabled me to move forward and later gain a personal best in the Cardiff premier race, when I finished second. Thanks once again for the grant!” Non Dingle

Jack Shepherd - Sailing

 

Another “one to watch on the water” is Jack Shepherd, aged 17, now living in Chester, ranked 8th in GB U-18, who came 12th overall at the highly-competitive Royal Yachting Association Laser Radial Boys National Championships at Pwllheli Sailing Club. Jack is now setting sail for the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Ireland and the UK Laser Nationals in Weymouth this summer.

 

“Can I thank SportsAid Cymru Wales for my grant. I was absolutely delighted that others appreciate and understand why my sport of sailing means so much to me. This financial help will assist in what is a very expensive sport logistically, especially training and competition costs.” Jack Shepherd