MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.
Scarlets slay Dragons
Tries from man-of-the-match Sione Kalamafoni and replacement Sam Costelow, combined with the boot of Dan Jones ensured Glenn Delaney’s side made it a festive double to move them up to second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 standings.
The Scarlets weren’t at their free-flowing best and will be frustrated by the amount of handling errors and ill-discipline in their performance, but the winning run continues ahead of next week’s clash with Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Despite a rare dry night in Llanelli, the opening 40 minutes was littered with errors from both sides and it meant the game had little flow.
The Scarlets enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, but too often passes failed to go to hand.
It was the Dragons who were first on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty from the boot of ex-Scarlet Josh Lewis.
Wales lock Jake Ball limped off moments later with a knee injury to be replaced by Tevita Ratuva, while Wyn Jones, on his 100th appearance, also left the field for a head assessment.
The outstanding Kalamafoni made a powerful surge up the middle of the field to put the Scarlets on the offensive, but again a promising move broke down.
Dan Jones levelled matters on 29 minutes, then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time after a quick tap from Kieran Hardy.
The Scarlets continued to enjoy the better of play in the second period, but had to wait until 57 minutes for the game’s first try.
More pressure led to Gareth Davies being taken out off the ball and Dragons lock Matthew Screech being shown yellow by referee Nigel Owens.
Scarlets went for the corner instead of the shot at goal and a well-worked training move saw Kalamafoni charge across the whitewash for his first try in Scarlets colours, a score converted by Jones.
With former Scarlet Rhodri Williams adding a spark, Dragons looked for an immediate response, but a brilliant turnover from Ratuva snuffed out the threat.
Then in the final play, replacement Sam Costelow picked up a loose ball, sped through the gap and around the final defender for a superb solo score, with the Wales U20s fly-half adding the conversion for good measure.
After the hard-fought win, Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney said: “I suppose it was a compelling contest of a different nature. You saw a lot of kicking battles going on, neither team wanted to give the other counter-attacking opportunities.
“I thought defensively we were very resolute, I never felt we were in danger on our goal-line, it was a bit stop-start with a couple of drop balls, but I am delighted to get the win and we did create a bit more in the second half.
“With these derby games, I am learning every time we play one, they all seem to be pretty much like this and perhaps bring out the best and worst in us because of the individual competition and contest.
“We would have liked to have done a bit more with the ball and the attacking breakdown with us was poor, the Dragons turned over a bit of ball there so we need to be better in that area and make sure when we make the breaks we are able to capitalise.”
Scarlets’ late surge sees off Ospreys
Ospreys 14 – Scarlets 16
The Ospreys, playing as the official ‘home’ team at Parc y Scarlets, had led for the majority of a tense contest.
But with 71 minutes on the clock, a superb off-load from replacement Blade Thomson paved the way for full-back O’Brien to slice through and dive over for the crucial score.
Man of the match Dan Jones added the conversion to put the Scarlets in front for the first time and the West Walians were able to finish the match on the front foot to claim the annual festive bragging rights and a crucial win to keep them in the hunt in the Conference B standings.
O’Brien hadn’t been named in the original match-day 23, but was brought in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Johnny McNicholl.
In blustery conditions, Scarlets enjoyed the early pressure, but despite hammering away at the Ospreys line were unable to come away with any points.
Instead, it was the Ospreys who were first on the board after 14 minutes through the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler.
The opening quarter was proving a cagey affair with both sides unable to get any momentum going.
A moment of individual brilliance from scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams, who dummied and sprinted clear from 40 metres, extended the Ospreys’ lead on 22 minutes, but the Scarlets’ response was swift with Jones landing a penalty straight from the kick-off.
Jones hit the upright with another attempt, then a pin-point cross-field kick from Steff Hughes just evaded the grasp of wing Steff Evans with the line at his mercy.
A powerful scrum on the stroke of half-time led to a long-range penalty chance, but O’Brien’s strike drifted wide with the Ospreys going in ahead 8-3 at the break.
Myler extended his side’s lead early in the second half, but Jones kept Scarlets in it with his kicking out of hand and off the floor.
Two more penalties from the Carmarthen fly-half to one from Myler made it 14-9 going into the final 10 minutes.
Then the Scarlets struck.
With Thomson having a big impact off the bench, the back-rower plucked a ball out of the sky as the Scarlets surged forward. He was involved again soon after, producing a sublime pass to O’Brien who cut a great angle to the posts.
With only two points in it, the Scarlets showed their composure to make their way downfield and set up camp in ‘home’ territory for the final minutes, denying the Ospreys any chance to snatch the win.
Council plasterer becomes world champion darts player
A CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council plasterer has just become a world champion darts player.
Jonny Clayton, from Pontyberem, lifted the World Cup of Darts trophy on Sunday alongside fellow Welsh-man Gerwyn Price
The pair beat top-seeds England 3-0 in Salzburg, Austria, becoming the first ever Welsh winners of the championship.
When he’s away from the dart board, Jonny – ranked 16 in the world – spends his time plastering new and renovated homes and schools for Carmarthenshire County Council.
Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said it’s an honour to have a world champion on the pay-roll.
“We are immensely proud of Jonny and all that he’s achieved,” he said. “What a fantastic achievement for him, a humble man from Pontyberem, to lift the trophy for his country in a sport that he loves.
“Jonny is a valued member of the Carmarthenshire County Council team, as talented at plastering as he is at darts. As with any member of staff representing their country in elite sports, we have given Jonny our full support to ensure he can work his day-job as well as having the time to train and compete.
“We’ll be proud to welcome him home to Carmarthenshire – and knowing Jonny, he’ll be back at work shortly having swapped his darts for his hock and trowel.”
The father of two – who earned his nickname The Ferret during his days as a scrum-half for Pontyberem RFC – spoke to media after his win describing himself as “the proudest man on the planet”.
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