Wales can maintain the winning momentum to Rio 2016 and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and beyond insists Sport Wales Chair Laura McAllister.
As Team Wales return home with a record-breaking medal haul of 36 – comfortably eclipsing the Manchester 2002 tally of 31, McAllister is already looking to the future:
“It’s been an incredible 11 days of competition, which has been capped by a truly stunning Gold medal for Geraint Thomas.
“We’ve witnessed tremendous achievements which will live long in the memory. Wales has a bright future ahead and we expect to see a ripple effect in terms of sports participation too.
“To secure this record medal haul – without three World Champions and an Olympic silver medallist – is outstanding.
“And let’s be clear, we’re not just relying on a few sports to deliver.”
Gymnastics delivered an exceptional performance to win 10 medals – an incredible medal haul for such a small nation. Whilst Welsh swimmers also went on to make history appearing on the podium seven times with two gold medals, something never achieved before. Not to be out done, boxing fought their way to five medals, including our first ever female boxing medal with Lauren Price picking up a bronze medal.
In terms of medals per head of population, Wales finished ahead of all the major nations – including the home nations.
“We believed from the start of this journey, when we launched the Elite Sport Strategy in 2010, that we could make a significant step change in Wales, building on sporting success year on year. Wales is now a nation that expects to win and that winning mentality has certainly shone through in the performances of Team Wales.
“These Games show that our investments and systems are working.. Current investment into our elite sport programme has been running for three years. Considering it takes at least 8 years to really develop medal winning athletes, these Games show we are heading in the right direction. We want to be in a position where we are supplying an increased number of athletes to Team GB for Rio in 2016 and building on that experience for the next Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018.
“New faces such as Laura Halford, Nikara Jenkins, Rhys Jones and Daniel Jervis, Lauren price, and Ashley Williams have stepped up to show huge promise. Elinor Barker won a silver and bronze – and she’s still only 19. So, whilst we see the likes of Frankie Jones and Michaela Breeze bowing out of competition, we have enormous talent waiting in the wings which augurs well for Rio 2016, Gold Coast 2018 and beyond.”
Sarah Powell – Sport Wales Chief Executive – adds:
“The Team Wales athletes, coaches and support staff have all delivered and we’re immensely proud of them, they are a credit to the entire nation. Once again they have conducted themselves, often in trying situations, with dignity and a quiet confidence in their ability to deliver. The support staff created a first class environment within the Village to prepare, where the support of the nation for the team was evident. They have organised so many special touches which has contributed towards what has been very special team spirit.
“We’ve been clear about our need to raise expectations and to build upon our reputation as a great sporting nation. Together with governing bodies of sport, we set a medal range of 25 to 35, with the agreed target being 27. Exceeding the stretch target of 35 is an incredibly positive signal for the future and reinforces the work the athletes, coaches, sports and Sport Wales Institute is doing in Elite sport.
“We will now undertake a thorough review to examine what has worked well and what needs to be improved further but we are delighted that all the focus and hard work of our athletes, coaches and support staff has paid off; and that meticulous planning, attention to detail and strategic investment of £15 million between 2010 and 2014 is demonstrating an unbelievable return on investment. Ensuring every young person who has a talent is nurtured to achieve is central to our approach in Wales, investing in the present and future of Team Wales.
“It’s paramount that we remain on the podium at major games as a matter of course. Continuing to provide and enhance our world class services, environments, and facilities and the vital coaches that are at the heart of our system will be out priority. We have to continue to develop the environment that our athletes experience, ensuring that we are innovating and using the right people to secure winning margins.”