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Guest Blog: the future looks bright for Welsh athletics

Tom Brown went along to the Welsh Indoor Athletic Championships in Cardiff on Sunday and was impressed by what he saw

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With temperatures outside dropping below zero again, the prospect of an indoor championship must have been quite appealing to Wales’s top athletes. So Sunday’s Welsh Indoor Athletics Championships came at the right time. Not just because of the central heating but because it brought together athletes of all ages competing in front of a capacity crowd at Cardiff’s Indoor Athletics Centre.

The championships featured many track and field events ranging from the pole vault to the 60m sprint. Following Saturday’s junior competition at the same venue, Sunday’s event was billed as the senior championships. But with 800m finals of the U13, U15 and U17 girls and boys, the event brought together the current crop of Welsh athletes and the next generation.

Andone man that represents both is Joe Thomas. The 22-year-old was competing on Welsh soil for the first time since returning from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last October. He had to pull out of the 800m final through illness but was only half a second off the championship record in his heat. He looked in good form going into the new season.

Joe Thomas interview

Also competing for the first time since Delhi was shotputter Ryan Spencer-Jones, who won gold comfortably after throwing the shot three metres further than his nearest competitor. It was the third year in a row that Ryan had won the national title and unsurprisingly he’s already begun working towards the London Olympics.

Ryan Spencer-Jones interview

The event also gave us an insight into what the future of Welsh athletics may look like. And it will almost certainly feature the name ‘Rhiannon Yates’. Rhiannon is just 19 years old, has been competing at the Welsh Indoor Championships for years and on Sunday took the gold medal in both the senior long jump and senior 60m race. Not only that, she also set a championship record in her heat for the 60m before then breaking it in the final. The Olympics might come too soon for Rhiannon, but it’s definitely a name worth remembering for the years to come.

Rhiannon Yates interview

The championships featured around 500 athletes over the two days, with at least as many people coming to watch. Throughout the day I spoke to some of the people in the stands, and whether they’d come to watch one of their children compete or whether they were coaching one of the children, most of them were very positive about the event as a whole.

Views from the crowd

The intimacy of having an entire championship under one roof really gave you an idea of just how good many of the athletes are. John Penny, the President of Welsh Athletics, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ with how the weekend had gone, and he was looking forward to doing it again at the Celtic Cup on Sunday 30 January.

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