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Welsh Talent for Team GB

Four Welsh athletes will head to Tblisi this week to represent Team GB at the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Jessica Roberts (cycling), Maisie Methuen (artistic gymnastics), William Jones (Judo) and Rebecca Sutton (swimming) will be part of the 44 strong Team GB, aged between 13 and 17 years old, who will compete across five sports; cycling, gymnastics, judo, swimming and tennis.

Seventeen year-old Swansea judoka Will Jones admits it will be the biggest competition of sporting career to date, but a challenge he is relishing.

“It’s the biggest step up I have made,” said the Gendros Judo Club athlete.

“I first started out in judo when I was six and switched to Gendros when I was 11. My coach Mark O Connor really pushed me and now I’ve got this chance to be part of Team GB.

“I won the British Cadet Championships at the end of 2014 after stepping up a weight category. I was nominated for a spot on the squad and it had to go to a selection panel.

“I want to be up there in contention but I’m only focused on my first fight and I can take it from there.

“My family are over the moon and I’ve got great support back home so I’ll be giving it my very best.”

Carmarthen Cyclist Jessica Roberts has already been identified as one to watch for the future having joined the Olympic Development Programme late last year.

“It’s so good to be picked for the European Youth Olympic Games,” said Roberts, a pupil at Queen Elizabeth High.

“It’s great to be able to represent my country, it’s going to be my first time for Team GB and it’s going to be such an experience.

“I’ve represented Wales before at the School Games but never for Great Britain.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel, hopefully more excited than nervous.

“Things have been pretty well this season. I won the Welsh National Omnium title recently.

“I’ve got a good record of winning it so I was happy to retain my U16.

“I’m seeing the Festival as a stepping stone to the Olympics. I’d love to race there eventually.”

Pontypool gymnast, Maisie Methuen, is another picked to board the plane to Georgia.

The West Monmouth School pupil’s selection comes as no surprise to those that have seen her in action in the last 12 months. The 14-year-old has had plenty to celebrate, adding the 2014 British Espoir Champion to her trophy cabinet and taking silver at the 2015 Women’s Junior All-Around British Championships in March.

It’s not the first time Methuen will have represented Great Britain on the world’s stage – she joined Team GB only last month to help win Team Gold at a four-way international against Germany, Italy and Brazil.

“I watched the London 2012 Games and knew that I wanted to one day compete, as a senior, in an Olympics,” she said. “If I continue to work hard in my training and progress, then maybe one day.”

National Women’s Artistic Coach for Welsh Gymnastics, Tracey Skirton, will join Maisie in her journey to victory at the Games.

“I’m thrilled for Maisie,” said Skirton. “She is the only Welsh gymnast selected to join the gymnastics team in Tbilisi and I know it will be a wonderful experience for her to compete alongside the UK’s top junior gymnasts. Maisie trains extremely hard and is committed to her discipline.”

Maisie has looked to fellow Welsh gymnast and Commonwealth Bronze-medallist Angel Romaeo, for advice, as Romaeo herself was selected for the 2013 Youth Olympics.

Maisie added:

“Angel has been great with helping me get ready for the Games. It’s nice to know someone who has experienced it before. I’m still a bit nervous but more excited to get going and see what I can achieve.”

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