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ISSUE twenty one



World champ Hannah targets Gold


Colin gives his Olympic verdict


Howley takes over Wales sportingwalesmagazine @sportingwales

Covering all of Welsh sport including sailing, the Olympics, running, rugby, rowing, hockey, sports injuries, table tennis, cricket, community sports, polo, shooting, swimming, weightlifting, product reviews, golf competition and sports dvds.


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cover story

Olympic verdict



World champ targets gold



From rugby to sailing



Hannah Mills

Model rower



Welsh hockey hope



New World Champion turns her attention to trying to become Wales's first sailing Olympic gold medallist


With Spire Cardiff Hospital



Making the most of life





Leading Glamorgan



Golf Shirts



Colin Jackson


Athletics great gives his verdict on this year's Olympic hopefuls




Community Sport





Rob Howley Great player looks to build great coaching success with Wales




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WELCOME TO SPORTINGWALES staff and contributors

Will Wales get behind the Olympics? It will all be happening in London and the danger is that because of transport problems, the complicated ticketing process and hiked prices it will seem a world away. For those going it sounds as though it will be an absolutely fabulous, well worth the effort and obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For those thinking they have missed the boat then I would offer two options. Firstly the Olympics will be coming to Cardiff, with the football matches at the Millennium Stadium.

Editor: Hamish Stuart

There will be a flavour of the Olympics in the atmosphere and entertainment – and some really good games. These are matches which will be shown round the world and offer the chance to show Wales in a really good light. Ticket sales are slow for some of the games, controversy over the Team GB selection seen as a contributing factor. To those football fans holding back because of a perceived fear over the future of Wales as an independent footballing country, I would say, “Don't be so daft, get behind the team and enjoy a unique occasion.” If anyone thinks having Welsh players in Team GB will affect the future of Wales as a footballing nation then they have fallen for the myth. It is hard to see a threat to Wales's status given the current trend towards greater nationalism and strengthened devolution. However if there ever is a realistic threat it will be because of reasons far greater than the selection of this Olympics, which will have no impact either way.

Photography: Steve Pope

I am told on very good authority that there is no threat to the Wales team, but there is a perceived threat to the guaranteed position of the Home Nations at the top table in FIFA committee rooms. Effectively the dreams of players who may never experience a major international tournament, such as Ryan Giggs, and the emotions of fans are being messed with to protect a committeeman! It is time to reject such nonsence, get behind the occasion and enjoy it. My second suggestion for those who feel they have missed the Olympic Fever boat, is to go to the Paralympics. The same venues, the same atmosphere, healthy attendances guaranteed but there are still some tickets available.

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Editors Message





Head of Advertising: Cory Richards Contributors: Gary Baker Maxine Ashford Richard Thomas Kelly Salter Gareth Evans Simon Grant Contributing Photographers: Matt Browne Dan Towers

As these pages show, some of the stories of our Paralympians could not be more remarkable and they too deserve support. It is an area where Welsh sport is particularly strong. As ever, we are able to bring you this quality product covering all of Welsh sport free of charge thanks to our quality partners, sponsors and advertisers. Please support them as they support us. If you cannot rely on getting a paper copy then subscibe online through There is also an I-Pad/tablet version of the magazine available through our website. Enjoy this magazine – and don't miss out on the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

Publisher: SportingWales Managing Director: Steve Pope Accounts Manager: John Pope

©SportingWales 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted or recorded in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the publisher. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of printing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear.








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Colin tips Dai to make history Colin Jackson believes Dai Greene can succeed in getting the one major honour he was denied – and become the first Welsh individual track gold medallist in the Olympics. The Welsh athletics legend says Dai Greene is a phenomenal athlete who can go all the way to Olympic Gold at London 2012, though he knows only too well about the potential pitfalls - especially in the hurdles. For hitting a hurdle in the semi-final of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics meant Jackson was injured going into the final where he was the clear favourite to join long jumper Lynn Davies as the second Welsh athlete to win an individual track and field gold medal. Just as a fully fit Jackson would surely have won gold in 1992, so steeplechaser John Disley would have been a likely gold medallist for Wales in 1956 but for illness. Some have won relay gold, but that individual track gold medal in the Olympics has always proved elusive for Welsh athletes. Jackson, the former World, European and Commonwealth 110 metres hurdles champion, claims Dai Greene has everything it takes to be an Olympic winner and break that duck. “It takes more than just talent to be great – you have got to have passion as it athletics sportingwales


gives you the mind-set to succeed,” said Jackson. “It is that passion that makes Dai Greene such an outstanding talent. “Dai is approaching his sunshine golden period and as long as he can stay clear of injuries then some time in the next couple of years he will even beat Kriss Akabusi’s record that has stood since 1992. “Every hurdler suffers from stress injuries because it is not a natural movement, but Dai is fit and healthy and he won’t be fazed by the Olympics at all. He has won major titles before and he will be ready for this. “The beauty is that Dai seems to be going towards the Games almost unnoticed and understated without the same pressures that are being put on people such as Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah and that’s ideal. He’s almost the forgotten champion … for now.” But Jackson warned that competition in the 400 metres hurdles will be very tough with serious challengers from around the world and some lesser-known home grown talent too. “Dai Greene can win but so can six other

athletes. He is among a very elite number of athletes who can take the Olympic gold. There are strong challengers from South Africa, the USA and also Jack Green his training partner too. “But Dai has beaten everyone at a major event and that fills you with confidence.” Colin can expect another torrid time in the BBC commentary box watching Dai run and recalled the nervous torment he went through watching him win his crown at the World Championships in South Korea last year. “I was exhausted and I didn't even run! But believe me, I ran every step of that race in the TV studio. I was on my feet shouting and jumping about like crazy,” he said. “I had never before experienced emotion like that watching TV. I went through all the emotions for someone I barely know.” There may be some fears about Wales missing out on Olympics fever with the Games being hosted in London, but Jackson disagrees – partly because the spotlight will fall upon Wales first of all.

Maxine Ashford

Colin Jackson






“This is massive for Wales, as it is for the whole country,” he said.

who act as mentors to up-and-coming young athletes.

“We have women’s football in the Millennium Stadium before the Olympic Games even officially open in London, so we will be able to experience the Olympics first in Wales.

He is one hundred per cent behind the philosophy of the Academy. “Jaguar had a vision of looking at young sports people and what could be done to help them. They enlisted the likes of Dame Kelly Holmes, Sir Steve Redgrave and myself.

“Dai and Christian will inspire many young people for sure but we want the Olympics to touch everyone from all backgrounds. There are plenty of Welsh stars to look out for.” Jackson, 45, is living in Kingston-uponThames, London, although he claims his home will always be Cardiff. He is one of an elite number of ambassadors that represent the Jaguar Academy of Sport. Founded in 2009, the Academy has taken sporting legends from across the board

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“The recipients, aged between 14 and 24, are nominated through SportsAid and bursaries of £2,000 are awarded to 50 young sports people each year. “As far as the young individuals are concerned, the mentoring is of the greatest value. We can teach them how to prepare for a race or major event, how to cope with injuries, deal with pressure and how to deal with the media. “It’s really not about the money. You simply can’t put a price on mentors like David Beckham, Gareth Edwards and Sir



Ian Botham – all of whom give up their time free of charge. What we can offer them is truly priceless. “All the top names involved are really passionate about the next generation of athletes and want to help them along the way.” Colin also plays a vital role within UNICEF and had just returned from Azerbaijan before this interview. “We are attempting to get 12 million kids involved in sport in 20 nations outside the UK. “This is London 2012’s legacy around the world.” He may run the occasional 10k for fun these days, but in between reality shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity MasterChef, his passion for sport has showed no sign of fading.

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10 sportingwales



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Dan Towers/ Skandia Team GBR

Mills and Boom Hannah Mills is one of those people who has been well known in the right circles for the last decade or more, but in the last few weeks she has started the process of exploding into the British national consciousness. She has just become the first ever British World Champion in the 470 class of sailing, along with partner Saskia Clark, but it shows the power of the Olympics that celebrations were slightly muted with that greater goal in mind. However if the pair can build on a remarkable 15 months and claim Olympic Gold at a home Games – Mills would be a first ever Welsh sailing gold medallist – then they would go from big names in sailing to household names across the country. Never mind Mills and Boon – it could be Mills and Clark on everyone's lips this summer as the country catches up with such bizarre followers as the American rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, congratulating them on video through Twitter, and The Sun newspaper, who have already dubbed them Two Blondes in a Boat.

the right blend, but was still on the fringes of the selection battle for 2012. Clark was sailing with double Olympic gold-medallist Sarah Ayton, before Ayton decided to give up pursuit of a third to spend more time with her young family. Clark looked around for a new partner and chose Mills over more experienced rivals in February 2011 despite a 10 year age gap. “In my eyes this partnership has been a long time coming,” said Mills. “I had been struggling to find anyone who I felt was good enough to go to London 2012, but it was always my aim to get to the home Olympics. “I was in the wilderness a little bit and trying to wait for someone to come along. Sas became available and I jumped at the chance.

“Things have not changed massively since we have been selected, but it will go mental and we are preparing ourselves for that,” said Dinas Powys product Mills, who started to sail on a family holiday and then raced through the ranks in Cardiff.

“I always knew we would eventually get there but I was unsure how long it would take. Teamwork is such a big part and you never know how long it is going to take to gel. Luckily it did not take very long and we get along very well.”

“I can’t imagine what it is going to be like because it is the Olympic Games and it is going to be insane.”

The pair had a sticky start in their first regatta before a series of second place finishes meant that just seven months after getting together they were pre-selected in the first batch of British sailors chosen for the Olympics.

At the start of 2011 this seemed a long way away for Mills. World champion up through the age groups, with a record in Welsh and British sailing that puts her in the Ben Ainslie bracket of junior achievement, it seemed Rio 2016 would be the realistic start of her time at the top level. Mills had sailed with a few partners trying to find

It showed how highly regarded helm Mills has been for a long time in the worlds of Welsh and British sailing that they gained early selection with such a short track record compared to others picked at the same stage. sportingwales


Becoming world champions a few months later backs up that faith, but is very much just the starting point this year of all years. “We knew we had the potential to win and it’s a huge thing to be World Champions,” said Mills after being crowned in Barcelona. “But at the same time I can’t stop thinking about this summer and the Olympics which is what this year is really about for us. “We’ve learnt a whole lot this week, on how we need to sail to win, our strengths and weaknesses and about staying consistent and we’ve sailed a really, really solid week. “It was really cool to cross the finish line and know we had done enough - I don’t it has really sunk in yet for me but Sas is



super happy, she’s so excited. “It’s been a long week – a day longer than our events usually are and made to feel even longer when we got our black flag right at the start, so there was no real room for error after that.” This world title will be the start of things changing for the Cardiff product, who admits she is already feeling the Olympic effect. “We have done a few cool things and had a few interesting interviews,” she smiled. “We have seen the headline ‘Two blondes in a boat’ and that is fine. It is a bit of fun and we like the media side of things. We love what we do and it is great to get to speak to people about that.”

Home advantage will also be a massive element if favour of the pair as they chase gold. “Everyone asks us about the home conditions and it is about bizarre issues,” admitted Mills. “We do hope we will be slightly ahead of the game on local affects like wind bend and tide, but also your race lasts an hour and within that time any bizarre thing can happen with the wind and the clouds. “It is about getting the balance right to recognising our local knowledge, but keeping our eye on the boat and not just expecting things to happen.” A series of second place finishes meant they were dubbed the Silver Lining of the British team – claiming the world title proves they can be part of the Gold Rush.

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Riding the Crest of a Wave

Stephen Thomas SW



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It’s hard to for Stephen Thomas to describe how it feels to represent his country. After competing in three Paralympics he should know – and he settles for ‘amazing’. With his place already secured for London 2012 the 34-year-old sailor from Bridgend is about to scoop a hat-trick of Paralympic appearances with his British sonar team mates, Hannah Stodel and John Robertson and is already looking forward to competing in front of home crowds. Stephen now lives in Weymouth, Dorset, close to where the Paralympic sailing events will be staged. Unlike many other team sports, where the line-up is adaptable, Stephen’s team has competed on sonar – a three-person keelboat – together for more than a decade. “We definitely have a unique relationship, as we have spent 12 years together. We are like a threesome as we spend the same amount of time together as you would with a colleague in another job.” Stephen is the mainsheet – or grunt, as he calls it – and he manages the communication between the trio. Stephen says that knowing and trusting each other so well is very effective. “We come from three different regions of the UK and we are quite different people. We do it because it’s fun; of course we take it seriously but it is about enjoying yourself.” The team enjoyed a great start to 2012 with bronze in the IFDS World Championships and silver in the Rolex Miami OCR in January. They’ve also been world champions twice before. Even so, the trio must feel the pressure for a top performance at London 2012 must be felt – despite entering Beijing 2008 on strong form, they failed to win a medal, coming sixth. If Stephen is feeling the strain, he’s still very enthusiastic about his sport. “'Once you get involved in sailing you love it. There is so much to learn. Unlike a rugby pitch, the water is always moving, so you

never quite know what to expect and you have to constantly adapt.” Stephen is also passionate about sailing for another reason. He was a sporty teenager and was a capped rugby player for Wales in the under 18s. But after having both legs amputated below the knee when he was 18, his future was uncertain. “I can’t imagine what I would have done without this,” he says of his sailing success. “I wanted to go in to the police, but that was taken away and I couldn’t have stood being behind a desk.” He contracted meningococcal septicaemia after a night out with friends. “I had gone out for some beers, came home and felt really ill but didn’t want to go to hospital, although my girlfriend was trying to make me. By the following morning they called an ambulance – and I woke up a month later in the Intensive Therapy Unit.” Doctors thought one leg could be saved, but the infection had killed all the tissue below the knee and a coma was induced to rest his exhausted organs. “I thought I was going to die, so I felt lucky to be alive and I still had the use of my hands and knees,” remembers Stephen. “With the support of my family I got through it and thought, ‘I have got to get off my backside.’” Stephen discovered that sport – and

the Federation of Disability Sport Wales – helped his rehabilitation. He set himself small goals to regain his fitness, walking one day, jogging the next and then running. “The development and sport structure in Wales is great. They are very good at identifying ability and developing it. Sport is such a good vehicle for rehabilitation.” At first he excelled at ice sledge hockey, and represented Great Britain in the sport at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino. Then he competed in both disciplines, but his success in sailing – winning his first ever medal after only nine months in the sport – meant Stephen was soon spending three weeks out of every month away from home training. He’s thrilled that his fourth Paralympics will be on home turf – and believes that it’ll raise the profile of disability sport. “It will inspire the next generation of disabled kids to become the next top British Paralympians. It will also be a great opportunity to build on the already great Paralympic sports structure we have here in Britain and to see more disabled sports being affiliated to their Olympic Governing Bodies.” Stephen admits he’s had to make sacrifices in his pursuit of a gold medal but believes it’s worth it. He’s not sure what his future is after the games, but for now, he hopes it’s gold. sportingwales


Victoria Thornley

Horses for courses leads Vicky to rowing


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Gareth Evans


Steve Pope

She might have dreamt as a child of following in the footsteps of some Welsh Olympic showjumping stars like David Broome. But north Walian star Vicky Thornley made the jump to rowing star ahead of London 2012. This was never the original plan though, as Vicky explains.

giants”, an appeal by UK Sport for men and women between the ages of 16 and 25, who fancied a crack at becoming an Olympian.

“I always thought I would go to the Olympics on a horse,” said Thornley, who hails from Holt near Wrexham.

Thornley was identified by the lotteryfunded programme and became one of the best success stories as she progressed through the system rapidly to claim a world championship bronze in the women’s eight last year.

“It seems crazy now I have a chance of going there in a rowing boat and I still find it quite bizarre. “I started riding when I was three, I was obsessed with horses and lucky to have my own when I was eight. “But, although I did better than I thought, I stopped because my parents were not able to come away with me. “I had amazing support from my mum and dad, but it was not going to last forever.” That dream faded and Thornley is also intriguingly a former catwalk model where she strutted her stuff on the Manchester scene until she realised there was no long-term future In fact five years ago, all Thornley knew about rowing was the name Sir Steve Redgrave. The prospect of jumping into a boat surfaced in 2007 after her mother spotted a newspaper advert for “sporting

The 6ft 4in prospect has been elevated to the quartet this year and is a genuine Olympic medal prospect. “All I knew in 2007 about rowing was Sir Steve Redgrave’s name and it’s quite strange how one advert led to my life changing,” said Thornley. “They wanted tall people for tall sports for the Olympics and I thought it would be a great opportunity. “I filled in the form online and got selected for rowing which was a surprise because I thought I would be tested for volleyball. “I had to read up a bit because I had not been near a boat before. “I went to the first round of testing and performed quite well and asked to come back for the second round where they cut it down from 1,000 to about 60.

“They thought I had potential so they put me on the world-class programme and it went from there. “I moved to Bath, where my coach was, and started my new life. “It was a change in lifestyle and everything was very new and exciting. “I kept falling in at first, but soon got to grips with things.” That is an understatement. Thornley had graduated to the women's quad where she celebrated a World Cup bronze medal but she has been selected in the eight boat for London. "I have not let myself think about the Olympics until I was selected," she added. “When I had answered the ad in 2007 I was thinking how good an Olympic medal would be. “I watched the Beijing Games while I was on a training camp and it was amazing. “But at that point it hit home how far off that standard I was and how much work I had to do. “This Olympics was always the aim, but I knew it was going to be hard.”

rowing sportingwales


Hockey ups sticks and moves forward

Sarah Thomas sums up the difference between the last Olympics and this summer's Games more than most from a Welsh and British point of view. Four years ago she was pleased to be there, at her first Olympics as part of the Great Britain team and the only Welsh player. They did well to get there, beat Japan and New Zealand along with a couple of draws, ended up coming sixth – not a bad performance at all. They played in the morning Chinese time, the middle of the night back in the UK, and those performances slipped past all but the most dedicated followers. Thomas had left Wales and the UK to play in Holland to develop her game to Olympic level. sportingwales


This time round is completely different. Thomas and the GB hockey team have been together working and practicing in Bisham Abbey for most of the last four years.

publicity and coverage, which will attract the widest possible audience.

They are now ranked to reach the semifinals and gold is a serious possibility in front of what will be the biggest crowds in the Olympics Park outside of the main athletics stadium.

Thomas is once again the only Welsh hockey player who will be in the GB teams this summer, but Hockey Wales are also determined to see a change in that with ambitious plans to use this summer and the Commonwealth Games as a springboard to seeing many more Welsh players at the top table.

Matches will be prime time and if they can get on a run to the semi-finals and beyond as expected then there will be massive

“There is a much bigger hype than there was before Beijing because it is a home Olympics,” admitted Thomas. “Going into

Hamish Stuart


Steve Pope

Sarah Thomas


field hockey


19 sportingwales


Beijing we were ranked 12th but had the ambition of coming in the top six. “Now we are ranked fourth and really are going for gold, so the goals alone are very different. It will be incredible to have family and friends cheering us on, whereas in Beijing the games were in the middle of the night so only the most dedicated watched them. “The GB squad are in a centralised programme now which means we train every day other than a Sunday, we used to have a camp format where were would get together for four hard days while now it is every single day, training twice a day with meetings on top of that. “The experience, the professionalism, the set-up at our Bisham Abbey base is very different and absolutely fantastic. “I would like to think I am a lot better as a player, you train to try and make yourself a better player each time and consistency is the thing – so I should be four years better. “We just have to stick to our game plan, we believe in ourselves and we have that trust in each other. Hopefully we can get to that Final, it could be fantastic. “Getting silver in the Champions Trophy, that was history already so if we could build on that and get gold then the noise will be great all around the Olympic Park. It is very exciting to think about.” While the players are thinking of making the most of that support to achieve success, the administrators are working out how to make the most of the opportunity to promote the game for future generations. sportingwales


A re-vamped Hockey Wales is aiming to make sure there are more than one player in the GB squads for the 2020 Olympics, with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a more than useful development tool. “Sarah is a fantastic character to help promote the sport, we are a proud nation and having the profile of a two-time Olympian is really important,” explained Hockey Wales chief executive Helen Bushell. “This helps us drive forward to achieve our Vision 2020, which is aimed at two things – firstly driving playing numbers to 60,000 from 6,500, which is a long way to go but we are ambitious. “The other really important bit is to have between two and four players in the British squad by 2020, hopefully both male and female. “The brand Hockey Wales is about a very different way of working, the reality is that there are almost 54,000 people out there we want to get playing the game. There are new competitions, new structures, new staff and lots of ambition and excitement. “The last six months has been the period it has started to take effect. We have a lot of work to do, but it is starting to bear fruit. Our Under 18 girls and Under 21 men are now in the top division in Europe, our senior women went to the Commonwealth Games, so there is light at the end of the tunnel but we can get better. “We are confident our membership will move from 6,000 to 10,000 this financial year, we are also looking for some

performance results in our age groups this year. “We have the second largest specator seating in the Olympic Park behind the athletics, 16,000 seats are sold out for every game, there is a huge programme throughout the UK to make the most of it, hopefully we will do it bigger and better than other sports top make the most of the opportunity of these Olympics.” Part of that was bringing Thomas back to home ground in Merthyr where she was brought up, with hundreds of schoolchildren involved in a hockey festival. It was a seriously impressive event, even for the likes of Thomas. “A lot of children have been playing for the last few months and tell me they will continue which is what you want. It is incredible, it is wonderful to come back to Merthyr and see all these people playing,” she said. “When I chose to go to Holland it was a good choice for me at the time, Welsh hockey was not in the state it is today. I have seen some incredible talent, Welsh hockey are investing a lot into talent, the enthusiasm is there so they will create stars in the future. “I think it is great they have set the target of two to four in the 2020 Games, there must be people out there so it is just a question of giving them the belief.” That could come from watching this summer – hockey could be one of the surprise packages in showing the benefits to British sport of the 2012 London Olympics.

SWFacts Sarah Thomas DOB 12th January 1981 Birthplace Aberdare Position Midfield and Forward



By day I’m under a mountain of work. But when I get off the 16.04 to London I’m on top of the world. Explore London by train. Be a Great Westerner. For tickets and times go to

Sports Injury Clinic Angus Robertson

BSc MB ChB FRCSEd (Tr. & Orth.) FFSEM(UK)

Spire Sports Injury Clinic

Rugby is a religion in Wales and as the players and contact area get bigger and more ferocious, major injury is an increasing risk. The shoulder region is an area which is prone to many injuries and problems. What is the AC joint?

What symptoms are associated with ACJ injuries?

The AC joint is short for the acromioclavicular joint. It is located where the shoulder blade (scapula) meets the collarbone (clavicle) at the tip of the shoulder and is the key link between the arm and chest. It is an area vulnerable to acute traumatic injury and can develop degeneration with time. Separation of the two bones forming this joint is caused by damage to the ligaments connecting them usually from a fall onto an outstretched arm.

Injury to the AC joint is common when there is a fall either on an outstretched arm or when the body weight lands directly on the joint itself. Symptoms range from pain localised to the joint, which is worsened when the joint is loaded, such as in doing a press-up or bench press, to feelings of instability or weakness with clicks or clunks or a grinding sensation from the joint.

There are several other ligaments which can be of importance in AC joint injuries, including the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament (divided into conoid and trapezoid sections) which joins the clavicle to the coracoid process, another forward protruding part of the scapula, slightly below and to the inside of the acromion.


22 sportingwales


• Pain on moving the shoulder. Damage to the acromioclavicular joint results in poor biomechanics of the joint and an inability to fully raise the arm over the head. This pain becomes more intense when attempting to raise the arms above shoulder height • Inflammation, or edema, in the joint is another of the body's initial responses to injury. Because the AC joint is fairly small, the amount of edema that is possible within the joint space is also minimal. • Pain at the end of the collar bone • Swelling often occurs depending on the extent of the injury. There may also be a step-deformity visible, which is an obvious lump where the joint has been disrupted and is visible on more severe injuries. Acute dislocation of the ACJ is a fairly common injury ranging from a ‘sprain’ where the joint is partly dislocated to a complete dislocation. This commonly happens due to a fall on to the tip of the shoulder.

X-ray showing complete dislocation of the AC Joint in a right shoulder

When there is complete dislocation of the joint the function of the shoulder as a whole can be compromised. In this situation a reconstruction can be performed either shortly after the injury (within a couple of weeks) or as a delayed procedure. Traditionally repairs were performed through a large incision over the front of the shoulder. With newer techniques many cases can be performed using minimally invasive ‘keyhole’ surgery allowing a better cosmetic result.

Sporting fitness at Spire Cardiff Hospital Spire Cardiff Hospital is the official healthcare partner for Cardiff Blues Rugby

We can provide comprehensive treatment for sports injuries which will return you to fitness as quickly as possible with: • expert physiotherapists and orthopaedic consultants offering prompt diagnosis and treatment • rapid access to on-site diagnostic facilities, including MRI, CT, ultrasound and X-ray • practical advice on rehabilitation • referral to on-site consultants with expertise in dealing with athletes Whether you’re insured or not, we’re open to everyone and offer one-off private treatment with a fixed price agreed in advance.

For more information or general enquiries, call us on

029 2054 2509 Croescadarn Road, Pentwyn, Cardiff CF23 8XL

Degeneration of the AC Joint When overload and degeneration occurs, the ACJ often develops osteoarthritis. It may also develop osteolysis, where the end of the collarbone disintegrates as the bone starts to die. ACJ degeneration is a progressive problem where there is localised pain in the ACJ area. Tenderness is localised to the tip of the shoulder and a swelling may develop. It is usually painful to lie on the shoulder or perform activities which compress the ACJ.

How to find us For more detailed directions to the hospital, please visit www.spirehealthcare. com/cardiff Telephone 029 2073 5515 Fax 029 2073 5821 Email

Treatment can include anti-inflammatories or injections. In more severe cases keyhole surgery can be used to remove the degenerate joint and allow a return to normal activity.

Profile Angus Robertson BSc MB ChB FRCSEd (Tr. & Orth.) FFSEM(UK) PgDip Sports & Exercise Medicine is a consultant in Trauma & Orthoapedics at the University Hospital of Wales and at Spire Cardiff Hospital. He has a special interest in the management of Sports Injuries of the knee, shoulder and elbow. sportingwales


Mark Colbourne

Second chance, but not second best for Mark


24 sportingwales



Gary Baker


Steve Pope

Mark Colbourne is living every single minute of his second sporting chance because he knows he has cheated death already.

He quite literally fell to earth when dropping forty feet in a paragliding accident over the coast of Wales which left him with a broken back. Still, it could have been worse! Tredegarbased Colbourne said, "If I had landed on my backside instead of my legs, then naturally the pressure would have gone up through my spine, into my brain and I probably would not be here now." The accident was in May 2009 but, out of disaster, came a shining beacon that 41-year-old Colbourne has grabbed and embraced. He has become a Great Britain Para-cycling international, won World Championships medals and is tunnel-visioned on one massive goal in 2012 - that of a Paralymics gold medal in London. With the determination of a man taking that second chance, Colbourne admitted, "I could have been in the local cemetery, which is why second best is just not good enough." For a man who could not lift himself off his bed at Cardiff's Rookwood Hospital, famous for rehabilitation for spinal injuries, two years ago, Colbourne's renaissance is nothing short of remarkable.

Although he has a permanent condition called 'Drop Foot' - able-bodied people will recognise it when you sit on your foot too long and it goes to sleep - hours of patience has seen him walk again unaided.

"The first thing I decided to do was put the brakes on slowly to bring my height down. I'm probably 80 feet over the ridge at this point, which is probably 400 feet above the beach.

That would be some achievement in itself but to be competing on the global stage is simply unbelievable.

"Because I was on the top of the ridge, then I was in the safety zone where I could do an emergency landing. As I put the brakes on slowly to reduce my height, it pushed me back even further.

Colbourne remembers all about the fateful afternoon at Rhossili on the Gower Penninsula and that paragliding accident. He said, "We had flown all day and, at about 5pm, we sat down for a cup of tea and a sandwich. The conversations were whether we shall go back up for the last hour before the wind starts to drop and the sun starts to set. "So a few of us say 'Yes, ok'. We launched our canopies and were flying around the ridge in Rhossili. I was out probably a mileand-a-half from the take-off landing area. We were doing figure of eight manoeuvres across the beach. "As I turned to my left to fly back out to go over the beach, I found a gust that turned up out of nowhere. This blew me backwards. So my air speed is probably around 15 or 18 mph and this wind increased and pushed me backwards.

"I turned to fly out of the wind, but this cross-wind turned up from nowhere and totally deflated the canopy. At this point, I was 40 feet above the ground. "As the canopy collapsed, there is only one place I am going to go which is down. Naturally, I prepared myself to hit the floor and, before I knew it, I had hit the floor quite hard. "When I hit the floor, I did not realise how fast I was moving. So, even though I was still conscious, the wind re-inflated the canopy. The rolling wind then dragged me about 80 metres from the top of the ridge to where the Wales Air Ambulance found me. "I just felt like a rag doll. Naturally, I had a helmet on which I feel saved my life because I hit my head on the grass.

cycling sportingwales


"I literally tried to sit up and immediately found I couldn't. Not only did I realise I could not sit up, I could not move my legs. The first thing I thought of is that I've broken my legs - and the second thing was that I'm in no pain. "My whole body from my tummy down was completely numb. I'm looking up (at the Air Ambulance helicopter) and there are two pilots above me. One came down very quickly to come to my aid. "The gentleman's name is Dennis Lewis and the only thing I can say is that I would like to personally thank Dennis Lewis because he is an ex-paragliding instructor who arrived at my side within a few minutes and knew that I had done something severe." He was taken to Morriston Hospital, Swansea. Colbourne added, "The process of X-ray and MRI scans happened The consultant said 'Mr Colbourne, I can tell you that you have broken your back'. If I could have stood up, I would have fainted. "You run the risk in all these extreme sports that I took part in - rock climbing, triathlon, cycling, paragliding - but you never think it is going to happen to you. At that point, I genuinely thought that my life had ended.

back since.

Denmark to claim silver.

"Within two months, of going through the process of learning to walk again in Rookwood with sticks and crutches, I came to the Velodrome and met Neil Smith. It was the September or October time," he said.

"For me, Mendez and Michael Teuber (Germany) have been racing for ten or 12 years. They may improve in some races but I am still on this steep learning curve of getting faster, lighter and stronger,� said Colbourne.

"I then found that my quadricep muscles still worked even though they were very weak and slow. I could actually push the pedals on a bike which is extraordinary considering that my feet don't work, my hamstrings don't work and my glutes (gluteal muscles found in your backside) don't work.

"Moving into London, it is just a few months away now. I have, in my own mind, the confidence not just to be on that podium but to achieve gold.

"Neil said to me 'Continue doing this process of building up your strength and fitness'. "Neil then said he would like to enter me into the Wales Disability Grand Prix, which is the track event they have in the Newport Velodrome. So that gave me confidence to think I can actually race and compete in disabled para-cycling at international level."

"Technically it did because I could not stand up, could not sit up, could not walk."

After considerable training, Colbourne found himself on the start-line a year to the week after the accident. He spent last winter training in Crete before a 13-mile Time Trial in Doncaster - and finishing 'within a minute of the world record'.

He was transferred to the Heath Hospital, Cardiff, then to Rookwood where he spent five months convalescing in what was a dark time.

Growing in confidence, Great Britain picked him up and he has ridden in Switzerland, Italy and Spain in Para-cycling World Cups.

Thanks to a meeting with Anthony Hughes, of Disability Sport Wales in July 2009, he discovered cycling - and has not looked

Then in September he beat Spain's Jose Mendez, one of his Big Two opponents, at the World Championships Time Trial in



"I'm not interested in silver or bronze because I know I have achieved that over the last year of competition. I have climbed to where I want to be and achieved my short-term goal, which was beating Mendez in the World Champioinships last year, so my next achievement is to focus on the work that has to be done for London." He has now transferred his life up to Manchester from Wales, where he is in intensive training with the British Cycling elite ahead of those Paralympics. To achieve gold would be the ultimate for a man who has shown incredible determination to turn tragedy into triumph. He added, "I have been accepted onto the Para-cycling Development Programme with the Great Britain cycling so I receive funding as well now. "For me, I am lucky to be here rather than in the local cemetery so I want to make as much effort as I can to achieve the best of it. Second best is just not good enough!"


Hamish Stuart

table tennis sportingwales



Steve Pope

21 years of waiting pays off for Paul of a dream 21 years in the making for Paul Davies when he makes his Paralympics debut in London 2012.

He has travelled all round the world, come within a single place of qualifying, played in seven European Championships and two World Championships, but always had those Paralympic hopes dashed – until now. And he will be part of a strong Welsh challenge in the table tennis events at the Paralympic Games, with six players challenging for a place in the British team – partly thanks to the academy structure at Sport Wales. “I have struggled,” he admitted with a huge sigh. “I nearly qualified for Sydney, but missed out by 20 points. The top 18 got into Sydney and I was ranked 19, just one win away – that's all it was. “Then in Athens I was about 100 points away, so this really was the last push this time round and I got in for London. I kept going, I kept trying, but I have got there in the end. “They sent me to Argentina, Buenos Aires, in September. I was number 12 in the world going into it, I had to be in the top 12 to qualify and I won that competition which took me to number nine. Then I was selected in January. “My dream has always been to play in the Paralympics because it is the number one competition, but the way it has worked out to play in London is incredible. If I go out after London then I will have played in the ultimate competition.

“The sport does not get any easier, it goes up a level every time and there are younger players coming in all the time fighting for their slots. “On the day I can beat anyone, last year I played in Rotterdam and beat the Beijing gold medallist 3-0 so I know I can beat anyone. “London is sudden death so if you lose one game then you are out. Now I have qualified, the hard work really starts. Going to that opening ceremony is something I will take to my grave.” Davies took up table tennis in 1991, a few years after a motor cycle accident left him paralysed from the waist down.

“I qualified five in the world this time so I am chuffed I worked so hard this time round. You learn by your mistakes, so I had to focus on the majors to get momentum for London.

Paul Davies and Sara Head

It will be the culmination

“I have been beating people in the medal positions, so it should be very exciting."


Sara Head will be joining Davies in the team, after suffering a similar disappointment missing out on Beijing even though she is a World Championships bronze medallist. “I was devastated to miss out, I was first reserve so I had to keep training and playing as though I was going – but without actually going in the end. It was hard,” she admitted.




Glamorgan's braveheart Mark Wallace has come a very long way since he was picked up outside the gates at Crickhowell School to make his Glamorgan debut against Somerset in 1999.

The Glamorgan wicket-keeper and captain was just 17 at the time, but did enough in his early county appearances to oust Adrian Shaw, who had donned the gloves during the County Championship-winning campaign two years earlier.

the respect of the dressing room and has just had his most successful championship season.

All his batting potential culminated in the 2011 season with 29-year-old Wallace becoming the first Glamorgan keeper in the club’s history to score 1,000 first-class runs.

Wallace has taken on the role of captain with clear personal and team goals.

“Any wicket-keeper who scores 1,000 runs is worth his place.”

For a decade now Wallace, a former England Under-19 cap, has been everpresent in Glamorgan’s first team.

After scoring those 1,000 runs for the first time last season he is not looking to repeat the feat in a hurry. However he is confident Glamorgan could, for the first time in eight years, show their full potential.

He was part of the Welsh county’s side which won one-day titles in 2002 and 2004, and while Glamorgan have struggled in recent years Wallace has been a key performer and ever-maturing keeperbatsman.

“I had a good year last season. I have probably under-performed with the bat throughout my career, so it is great to have broken through and getting 1,000 runs is something I am very proud of,” said Wallace.

Coach Matthew Mott believes Wallace deserved his chance to replace Alviro Petersen, the South Africa opener, as skipper.

“Going forward I probably hope I don’t get the opportunity to score 1,000 runs again because batting at number seven, if you are playing in a very successful side, you shouldn’t bat that much.

“We just felt it was his time to do it,” said the Australian. “Mark has been a consistent performer for a long time and has been part of a successful culture when he was younger. “So he knows what it is like to win trophies with Glamorgan. “He is a proud Welshman and has got



“The goal going forward will probably be keep my average up, but not have the opportunity to score as many runs. “I have always had the potential to score runs but I have never backed it up. I have got two kids now so perhaps there is more pressure to knuckle down and provide for the family!

“I have plenty on my plate, but I am hoping that will improve me rather than take anything away from my game. I wouldn’t have taken the job on if that was the case. “We have a talented squad and it’s a case of getting the talent breaking through. “We played some reasonable cricket in 2011 but the bottom line is that we did not win enough games. Winning is what we want to get better at. “If you can get on a roll and get some momentum behind you you can make strides. Nobody expected Leicestershire to win the T20 but they got some momentum going and the wins came. “We have the ingredients it’s just a question of incorporating all those ingredients.” Wallace is the first Welsh-born captain since Robert Croft gave up the role in 2006. "It is about the players standing up and doing it now. We have got a talented group of players and it is a competitive environment,” he said. "We need to be realistic but as far as in the second division we should be a side that are challenging for promotion. "We see that as a real goal for us and we can be in a position to qualify for the latter stages of the one-day competitions."

Mark Wallace


SWFacts Mark Alexander Wallace DOB 19th November 1981 Height 5ft 9in Nickname Gromitt,Wally Batting Style Left Handed Role Wicket Keeper


Richard Thomas pictures Steve Pope


31 sportingwales


Criced ar S4C

Mehefin 2 June CB40 Surrey Mehefin 17 June 20/20 Swydd Warwick Warwickshire Mehefin 23 June 20/20 Swydd Gaerloyw Gloucestershire Mehefin 30 June 20/20 Swydd Northampton Northamptonshire

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33 sportingwales


Rob Howley

From caretaker to main man?


34 sportingwales




Hamish Stuart


Steve Pope

Any Welsh rugby fan who remembers Rob Howley cutting the French to pieces in Paris 13 years ago, may be surprised the scrum half has achieved much more success as an international coach than as a player. Two Grand Slams as backs coach, versus none as a player. He was part of Welsh rugby's wilderness between Golden Era's of triple Grand Slams, one of a series of exceptional individuals over those 27 years from the 1978 Grand Slam to 2005 who did not taste that team success. Now he is caretaker coach of Wales while Warren Gatland recuperates from a bad fall in New Zealand, he is almost certain to continue in the role over the next 12 months as the former All Black takes charge of the British and Irish Lions. If the next year goes well then the succession to Gatland, should he decide to seek new challenges in 2015, would seem obvious - Howley the caretaker coach will become the main man. He seems comfortable in the role and the expectations, with this dry run being perfect for everyone to see into the future as Howley takes charge of a coaching team including former Wales colleagues Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins, as well as defence guru Shaun Edwards. There will be tougher tests ahead, but so far, so good. “I am enjoying it, it is something to get used to and I am really lucky with the coaching team of Robin, Neil and Shaun, as well as Alan Phillips who has been around as team manager for donkeys years. That experience is vital,” said Howley. “I am very task oriented, pretty organised in terms of the long term planning but

more importantly making sure everyone knows what is going on tomorrow morning. “It is unforeseen circumstances in terms of Warren not being here, of course we are going to miss him because he is one of the best coaches in world rugby, but we have to get on with the job in hand. “We have also got the opportunity to speak to Warren whenever we want. Hopefully though he does not have to worry about certain aspects of Welsh rugby while he concentrates on his health and getting better. “He is probably really disappointed at missing out on the Australia tour because we are in great shape. It is an historic tour for Wales with three Tests, so it is exciting for the players as well.” Of course Wales go as Grand Slam champions and World Cup semi-finalists, but two defeats against Australia also hang over the team in the last eight months. Gatland is still in control by phone and may make an appearance in Australia, it is uncertain if he will miss the November Series of internationals if appointed by the Lions – but you would have thought he would love to have another crack at the All Blacks at least. However the assumption is that this time round Howley would not go on the Lions trip as backs coach, as he did in 2009, but would take charge of Wales to lay down a marker for the future. “Any period in charge will aid that

experience so that if Warren is head coach for the Lions then this time will help us in future games. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge and we have not discussed that, there are more pressing matters,” he said, both answering and deflecting the question at the same time. “For this leg we are in charge of Wales, we will cross the other bridges when we come to them but this will put us in good shape moving forward.” After the last World Cup there were strong rumours that Howley was looking to move into a head coaching role at club or regional level. It is also interesting to note that Scotland's backs coach during the last Six Nations, Howley's former Lions half back partner Gregor Townsend, is moving from the national set up to take charge of Glasgow next season. Howley looks at it differently. “There was not a doubt in my mind, I wanted to stay within the national coaching set up, but it was down to Warren about what coaching team he wanted in place. “There were press rumours about Cardiff Blues and Bath, but I wanted to stay with Wales because we had a young, talented, vibrant group of players and working with them was unfinished business. “To win the two Grand Slams in the last four years is a fantastic achievement which has been done by the players, working within the environment set by Warren Gatland from the top and taken on sportingwales


board by all of us. We know what works and the players know where they stand in that environment as well.” Howley was always a fanatical trainer who led from the front as a player and captain, but it is still surprising to look back on that game in Paris when he and Scott Quinnell destroyed France, or his brilliant solo try against England in the last international at Cardiff Arms Park, and think those teams did not reach the current heights.

“I have always believed there is enough talent coaching in Wales,” said Howley. “However the national coach should be the best person, I do not believe it has to be a Welshman coaching Wales, and Englishman coaching England, and so on, but we have some great coaches in Wales. “I am not too sure about the Welsh Way either, rugby is about doing the simple things well under pressure – being accurate in what you are doing and running hard.

“In terms of the quality of personnel, when you look back we won two great games in France in 1999 and 2001 but for me the great disappointment was the 1999 World Cup,” he said,.

“The physicality of the international game has increased tenfold in the last five years. Warren has looked at players nutrition and body weights and that has changed dramatically.

“Whether we peaked too soon leading up to that World Cup year, beating England in Wembley and then France as well as a really good pre-season. Wales was rocking, but we turned up in front of our own supporters and we were not quite right or ready for what was going to hit us.

“I still believe it is a game for all shapes and sizes, but there are not many under six foot in our team, Shane was one and Leigh Halfpenny. That has been one of Warren's key ingredients.

“This Rugby World Cup we came in under the radar, there was not the same expectancy. After the World Cup we spoke about expecting to win the Championship and the Grand Slam. In my time we were happy to be the underdogs, but favouritism sits comfortably on this group of players. “Going to the Southern Hemisphere this summer is the best way to test it.” There also seems to be a sea change in terms of putting faith in Welsh coaches. In the last decade or so the only seriously 'ambitious' appointment in a coaching role had to be a foreigner. Welsh coaches are perceived to be the result of a lack of money rather than an exciting call. That seems to be turning round, with all four regions boasting very Welsh coaching teams and Gatland grooming a group of Welsh coaches through the Wales set-up. sportingwales


“When you look back at the decision to be assistant coach of Wales for another four years it was a decision I had to make. The current situation was unforeseen, it is a privilege and an honour, I am very proud. “Dick Best says you are not a coach until you are sacked, but I do not plan too much because if you are looking into the future then you can forget about the here and now. “You can plan ahead and have a vision, but it is the here and now which is most important.” This Wales set up has led the way in giving young talent a chance, often pre-empting the regions in terms of selection. It has echoes of Howley's own emergence as a player, given the chance by Bridgend who backed his potential rather than looking to bring in someone more experienced. “Kevin Ellis went to Warrington when I got my chance. I was in Swansea

University, training with the University and playing on a Wednesday, while also training with Bridgend and playing on a Saturday,” said Howley. “Over the last 12 months with Welsh rugby that sort of thing has happened more with youngsters being selected regularly, the Scarlets were the first region to invest and select in their future. Finances dictate everything and the Ospreys, Blues and Dragons are doing it too. “The one thing with Wales is that we have taken a punt on young players, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, putting Jamie Roberts into the centre, as coach you have a fair idea of a players technical and tactical skill set. “I would always rather throw in a youngster and see if they sink or swim. There is obviously a balance, but if you can do it in the right environment with senior players around then that is the best situation. “It has taken time for the go-to players at the regions to be Welsh. The policy of giving Welsh players the best opportunity to be successful, giving them time, has also been important. “There is a loyalty in selection to give a player a chance to be the best they can be – that can apply to someone like Tom Prydie who is still a quality player and is coming back now.” So Howley as the next coach of Wales? It does depend on results over the next 12 months, but you certainly wouldn't bet against it.

SWFacts Robert Howley DOB 13 October 1970 Birthplace Bridgend Height 5ft 9in Weight 13 st 5 lb

The Bigger Picture SW

38 sportingwales

TOP-SPREYS Ospreys players celebrate with the trophy. Celtic League Grand Final, Leinster v Ospreys, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin.



Matt Browne



Strike gold for your community The London 2012 countdown clock in Trafalgar Square has ticked under the 50 days to go mark and the nation is stirring as the prospect of the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ dawns brightly on the horizon. As national pride swells more, with each

Strike Gold For Your Community

strand of Jubilee bunting and every selected athlete, excitement is palpable.


40 sportingwales


We in Wales have more reasons than most to celebrate this landmark milestone. Nine million extra reasons in fact. Because Sport Wales has unveiled a further investment of £9million of National Lottery funding for community sport over the next three years, in conjunction with a wide ranging and ambitious Community Strategy for sport.

Brought to you in association with

That brings our total budget to almost £32m a year, for the beating heart of grassroots sports, across every community in Wales. Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister says: “Sport needs to keep adapting to be fresh and appealing. It needs to fit into today’s busy lifestyles. At Sport Wales, we will be incentivizing new and innovative approaches. We cannot have more of

the same. The same approaches will produce the same results.” "We know that there are pockets of good work happening across Wales. But good work needs to become the norm everywhere. We need a shift in the number and range of children playing sport, particularly among groups that may have less opportunity to take part. We simply cannot be complacent and we need everybody in the sector to raise their game. “The strategy is designed to challenge the sports sector to up the ante in increasing the number of people across the nation playing sport; to fulfil our ambition of getting every child in Wales, without exception, hooked on sport for life. And I don’t make that statement lightly.


Simon Grant



“It sets out clear priorities to enable a dramatic shift in the range and number of people involved in local sport. It’s about developing much wider offers, both formal and recreational, which are capable of appealing to a greater variety of children, young people and adults.” So what does this mean to you? To your child? To your club? To your community? Well, quite simply, a Sport Wales grant can help you to improve sport in your community. It can give you that precious foot up and dramatically improve the fortunes of your club. Let us be your biggest supporters and together we’ll deliver the very best for Welsh sport.

“The membership’s shot through the roof,” he continues. “In the other gym we probably had 15 lads boxing. Now we’ve probably got 40 lads training and boxing, plus we’ve got girls’ fitness classes, we’ve got men’s fitness classes. It’s open seven days a week, near enough all day. We’ve got four professional boxers and three of them are unbeaten. It’s just really escalating.”

So if you’re feeling inspired visit www. to find out if your club is eligible for a cash injection and download an application form today. Make 2012 an extra memorable year for your community and strike gold with one of our revitalising grants. That’s got to be worth a street party in itself don’t you think?!

starting a sports club takes

determination rt

We currently have two grants available to you. Community Chest offers grants of up to £1500 in any 12 month period for grassroots activities that encourage more people to become more active, more often and raise the standards of existing activities.

helping to improve


Boxing coach, Shane Thomas, did just that when his beloved Shotton Amateur Boxing Club was on the ropes and facing eviction because of a hike in rent. Shane approached Sport Wales for a Development Grant to convert a derelict scout hut – which had no running water, electricity supply or even a roof – into a fit for purpose gym.

The difference that funding has made is remarkable. So much so that Shane has now secured a second Development Grant, to extend his booming gym, just to meet the phenomenal demand from his community in Flintshire.

Blaenau Gwent Athletics Club Blaenau Gwent Athletics club didn’t exist two years ago. They applied for a Sport Wales grant to purchase equipment and now have over 100 young people training each week as well as taking part in competitions all over Wales. Whether you’re a sports club, voluntary association or community group, you could get up to £25,000* with a Sport Wales grant to help make a difference in your community. What would you do with a Sport Wales grant?

0845 045 4310 *Grant level correct at time of going to print.




community takes a

Sport Wales grant

Or for larger scale projects you can apply for Development Grants of between £1,501 and £25,000 to cover everything from establishing a new team, developing new training facilities or buying much needed equipment.

“Without the funding we’d have never changed premises,” he says. “Well to be honest with you we would have actually closed down because we couldn’t afford the rent.”


WELSH ATHLETICS INTERNATIONAL The Welsh Team takes on athletes from the Olympic nations from Europe, Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean in a fantastic pre-Games festival of athletics!

18th July 2012 Cardiff International Sports Stadium

The Road to London... ...starts in Cardiff!

Tickets & Information available on

POLO BACK AT THE MANOR Following the sell-out success of last year’s inaugural Elemis Polo at the Manor, it will return to The Celtic Manor Resort, on Saturday 7th July 2012. Players and ponies from across the UK will compete in a day of professional, fast-paced matches on a specially created polo field against the backdrop of the iconic Twenty Ten Ryder Cup course.

Elemis Managing Director Sean Harrington said: “We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with The Celtic Manor Resort by continuing as title sponsor of Elemis Polo at the Manor.

As well as the on-field action and a variety of hospitality packages, guests can also enjoy a visit to the polo village, the delights of the champagne bar, a pampering treat on the Elemis SpaBus and fabulous live entertainment throughout the day.

“Polo is a sport which brings people together to enjoy themselves and this promises to be one of the social events of the season. Our spa and skincare products are all about making people feel good about themselves and I’m sure Elemis Polo at the Manor will be an occasion when everyone has a great time.”


Celtic Manor Resort Chief Executive Dylan Matthews said, “After such a successful inaugural year we are delighted to host Elemis Polo at the Manor again. The event is just one of many new and exciting experiences that Celtic Manor is adding to its portfolio.”


44 sportingwales



Make the most of the event with a selection of hospitality packages available. From champagne reception, breakfast canapés and meet and greet with the polo players to private polo pods and gourmet hampers. Packages start from £95 per person (plus VAT). Spectator admission tickets from just £17 per person.

Shooting Stars

can see why because of the amount of practice time he puts in. “There aren’t too many clubs around who will have champions training with them before London.”

Chiselled into the Treboeth landscape, a little known Swansea sports club is showing it can target a new army of members.

But the growth of the club is about far more than elite athletes – and more than just shooting.

Hidden away at the end of a bumpy lane not far from the Liberty Stadium is another club with facilities fit for the elite.

A grant of £42,000 from Sport Wales, and a huge amount of work from the members themselves means the club now offers archery at their home as well.

Swansea Rifle Club’s latest investment has seen seven electronic shooting targets permanently installed on site. With the top-of-the-range equipment in place, some of Wales’ top shooting talent – many of whom are bidding for a place at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 – are now spending numerous hours a week practising at the growing venue. And the reputation of the club doesn’t end there. With the New Zealand Paralympic team preparing to set up training camp in Swansea this summer, one of the World’s top disability shooters will use the club’s facilities before competition starts. Mike Johnson – a medallist in both Athens and Beijing – has already visited the club to ensure it is up to spec. “It was such an honour having Mike training here,” says club chairman Dave Morris. “His shooting is near enough perfect and you

And in a show of club spirit, they have even dug and landscaped a new 50m outdoor range for archery and shooting into the local hillside. This is in addition to their existing 10 and 25 metre facilities. “The club is nearly 100 years old but we want to make it bigger and stronger,” commented Morris. “We’ve got around 270 members now and 40 going through their probationary period with us.

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OLYMPICS INSPIRE URDD GAMES Gemau Cymru, the multi sport event for young Welsh athletes organised by the Urdd, will be held in July across Cardiff – looking to find another Steffan Jones.

DISAPPOINTMENT FOR DARIUS SportingWales Rising Star Darius Jokarzadeh just missed out on his Olympic dream as the Cardiff teenager failed to lock out his legs on the lift that might have got him to London. Being a teenage Olympian in weightlifting would have been a remarkable achievement, in his last attempt to make it he lifted a personal best 165kg snatch before just failing with the 196kg clean and jerk which would have attained the Olympic B standard in the superheavyweight 105+ kg category. However there were celebrations for three Welsh lifters who took British titles as the best of GB aimed to put themselves in the frame for London 2012. GB performance lifter Gareth Evans lifted another Olympic B standard in the 69kg class with a 277 total following a 122kg snatch and 155kg clean and jerk. He just missed out on an A standard after a failed attempt at a 161kg clean and jerk.

Jones (pictured with First Minister Carwyn Jones) was a footballer on the books of Cardiff City who played Rugby Sevens to help out a team in last year's Gemau Cymru. His talent was spotted and shortly afterwards he found himself in the Wales Sevens team It is expected that over 1,300 of the best athletes in Wales will be competing in Cardiff over the weekend. They are invited to compete in Gemau Cymru, held for the second time, by their sport’s governing body.

Flintshire lifter Stephanie Owen lifted a 59kg snatch and 77kg clean and jerk for a winning 136kg total in in the women’s 69kg class. Both Evans and Owen are products of the Holyhead and Anglesey Weightlifting and Fitness Centre (HAWFC) under national coach Ray Williams Gemma Williams, whose parents are from Wales, took the 75+kg class with a 170kg total from a 76kg snatch and 94kg clean and jerk.

The venues will be open to the public, offering an unique opportunity to see the young up-and-coming Welsh stars in action.

For any athletes dreaming of competing at the 2012 Olympics, the British Championships represented their last chance to get a qualifying performance under their belts.

Three new sport have been added to Gemau Cymru this year, making a total of 12. Gymnastics, swimming, canoeing, triathlon, girls’ football, 7-a-side rugby, netball, boccia and athletics are the original categories from Gemau Cymru’s first year in 2011, and the three new fields added this year are sailing, indoor rowing and squash.

Evans and Perdue – both with Olympic B standard lifts – are the two Welsh athletes in contention for selection to the GB Weightlifting squad for London.

The grand opening ceremony will be held on Friday, 13 July in St David’s Hall, Cardiff with all the competitors and their families invited. During the ceremony there will be a brass band, local choir and an impressive display of acrobatic skills. Following the ceremony, the competitions kick-off with two of the new sports, squash and indoor rowing, at the Sport Wales National Centre. First Minister Jones said, “If we are to capitalise upon the 2012 Olympiad it is programmes like this which will ensure that a lasting sporting and volunteering legacy will be achieved.” sportingwales


Chair of Welsh Weightlifting, Jonathan Roberts said, “We are all chuffed for Gareth, Steph and Gemma and for Wales to take three of the British titles. “Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but he is one of the most exciting young prospects in Welsh sport at the moment.”


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‘It’s official’ – a new swimming academy for Wales While Wales keeps up elite success in the pool, Swim Wales has set up a different type of performance centre for the sport's officials.

areas – in North Wales, South East Wales and South West Wales – which provide training, recognition awards and social links with other young people.

Designed to bring through the next generation of officials, the sport’s governing body has set up a Young Officials Academy to train young judges and referees.

Leisa Forrest, Events and Volunteer Manager for Swim Wales, said, “All sports need volunteers to survive and swimming is no different. We thought that structured support for younger volunteers would help keep them in the sport and ensure our competitions are sustainable.

An essential part of swimming competition, the new academy has been set up to support young volunteers, aged 14 -17, throughout Wales and develop their officiating skills. Officials in swimming control the rules of competition and ensure that all events are swum fairly and within FINA rules. As part of the programme, the young volunteers undertake an introductory programme to volunteering within aquatics based on the five officiating levels: Timekeeper, three categories of Judge and Referee. The national academy is broken down into three regional training

“All academy members are provided with the opportunity to volunteer at national, regional and local events, as well as representing Wales at UK events. “The will also be provided with mentor support so they receive a high quality experience.” No specific qualifications are needed to apply for the programme, although participants need to become a member of Swim Wales and make a commitment to attend at least two regional and three national events.


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Brand new for golf, Zipi Grip looks after your grip by transforming uncomfortable, poorly designed, cold plastic handles, a common problem with the majority of golf trolleys. 

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AN YON E F O R P O LO ? Join us for the ‘event of the season’ when Elemis Polo at the Manor returns to The Celtic Manor Resort this summer. As well as the on-field action and hospitality, guests can also enjoy a visit to the polo village, the delights of the champagne bar and fabulous live entertainment throughout the day.

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SportingWales Library Review

WALES GRAND SLAM 2012 DVD This double disc DVD charts the dramatic story of the 2012's Six Nations tournament and captures the emotion of Wales' Grand Slam success. It covers the build up to the tournament and features exclusive interviews with Head Coach Warren Gatland and several key players such as Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny and George North, as they follow on from the World Cup to the training camps in Poland. Under the inspirational leadership of coach Gatland and captain Sam Warburton, Wales swept aside all that came before them and this DVD is a great way to take you back to a memorable and remarkable time in Welsh rugby. One disappointment is that you don't get to see the full matches, however, the viewer is provided with extensive highlights from all five matches and the chance to relive the memories of each game along with behind the scenes material. Overall, this is a great addition to any rugby fans collection and a must for any Welsh fan who wishes to remember the fantastic 2012 Grand Slam campaign!



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SportingWales Issue 21  

SportingWales Issue 21. Cover Story - Hannah Mills. For all Welsh sport

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