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Pontyberem’s Zack offers expert analysis

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Gary Buckland and Zack Davies: ‘Great to follow careers from the start’

WELSH boxing is thriving at the moment and the future looks bright, according to the professional boxer from Pontyberem, Zack Davies.

The 25-year-old light-welterweight fighter who has a record of seven wins and one loss during his career so far, will feature as the ringside analyst in the new S4C combat sports series Y Ffeit.

The new six-part series will show highlights from professional and amateur bouts from the biggest boxing and MMA events in Wales, starting on Wednesday night (Mar 29).

The first programme will show highlights from a boxing event held in Rhydycar Leisure Centre in Merthyr Tydfil. The main event of the evening will see Mountain Ash fighter Tony Dixon take on Wrexham’s Mike Jones for the Welsh Super Welterweight title. Zack is already looking forward to taking his ringside seat.

How did you become interested in boxing in the first place?

Boxing is in my blood. My grand-dad opened his own gym in Pontyberem and his four sons started boxing. There are pictures of my dad boxing up on the walls in the house. I’d have to say it’s my family I look up to most in boxing. But I only got into boxing when I was 11-years-old. My brother is older than me and he used to win a lot of trophies and get a lot of the limelight after winning his fights, and I wanted some of it. So I started because I was jealous and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is your career highlight so far and what is your ambition?

I fought on the undercard of Roy Jones Jr and Enzo Maccarinelli in Russia in 2015, and I won. It was a great show in a big stadium holding 20,000 people, and that was an experience I’ll never forget. As an amateur, I fought in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I was also part of the GB squad for four years.

In the future, I just want to take things as they come and go as far as I can. I have no specific goal of becoming a world champion by a certain point. I just want to reach my potential, continue to work hard and be as fit as I can.

Who’s who in boxing in Wales at the moment?

Lee and Andrew Selby are leading the way and Nathan Cleverly is doing well too. There’s a fighter from my gym, Liam Williams, who’s a Commonwealth champion and he’s starting to make a name for himself. There are a lot of quality Welsh fighters coming through at the moment, people like Dale Evans, Tony Dixon, Chris Jenkins and Alex Hughes. Maybe these boys will be the next Cleverly or the next Selby. It’s great we’re following these boxers’ careers from the start on Y Ffeit.

Who are you looking forward to watching on the first Y Ffeit night in Merthyr?

Tony Dixon is the big name on the card and I’m looking forward to seeing him. Tony is a very strong and exciting fighter. He was knocked out last year and he recovered well to win his next fight, but he’s got another big test against Mike Jones, who is in good shape and will be right up for it, because it’s the biggest fight of his career so far. Dorian Darch (Wales’ leading heavyweight boxer, who will fight Chris Healey) is a strong fighter too, so this bout will also be a good watch.

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Primary Schools Cross Country returns after three-year absence

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THE 33rd edition of the Carmarthenshire Primary Schools Cross Country Championships returned for the first time in three years on Thursday evening, September 29, 2022.

Organised by Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club and supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, the 2022 race moved to a new Carmarthenshire venue at Pembrey Country Park situated between Burry Port and Kidwelly. Prior to 2022, the United Counties Showground in Carmarthen had been the location for three decades.

Several runners have highlighted this event as the start of their running careers that have led to professional contracts and representing Great Britain internationally.

It gave youngsters in four primary school year groups the opportunity to get involved in running and enjoy the race experience alongside their school friends, whether they were experienced club runners or trying out cross country for the very first time.

Approximately 1,200 runners from over forty Carmarthenshire primary schools competed in the evening sunshine.

Watched on by hundreds of parents, family members and teachers, eight races were on offer with the year 3 and year 4’s completing 1km whilst the year 5 and year 6 races were over 1 mile. There were between 100-150 finishers across each year group.

Held on Monks Field within the park next to the National Closed Cycling Circuit and Ski Centre, competitors ran along fast grass and hill sections.

Individual and team awards were presented to the first five in each race and the winning school team in each year group combined – Ysgol Iau Llangennech (Year 3), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 4), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 5) and Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 6).

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to pupils from twenty two schools on the podium.

Top 3 positions:

Year 3 Girls: 1 Erin Jones (Carreg Hirfaen), 2 Farah Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Evie Issac (Swiss Valley)

Year 3 Boys: 1 Daniel James (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Gruff Davies (Rhys Pritchard), 3 Eligh Youngman (Iau Llangennech)

Year 4 Girls: 1 Zara Phillips (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Erin Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Mared Lili Rees (Y Dderwen)

Year 4 Boys: 1 Steffan James (Y Dderwen), 2 Elgan John (Y Bedol), 3 Zyiah Onoh (Mynydd Y Garreg)

Year 5 Girls: 1 Gwenno Jones (Nantgaredig), 2 Emilia Matthews (Pontyberem), 3 Elsie Davies (Saron)

Year 5 Boys: 1 Jasper Davis (Llandovery College), 2 Tai Jones (Y Bedol), 3 Tyler Greggory (Bro Banw)

Year 6 Girls: 1 Manon Phillips (Peniel), 2 Megan Evans (Cynnwyl Elfed), 3 Olwen Williams (Y Dderwen)

Year 6 Boys: 1 Tomos Cai Davies (Y Dderwen), 2 Miles Hayhurst (Ferryside), 3 Jayden Fergus (Saron)

The top 10 individuals in each school year can be viewed here: https://www.carmarthenharriers.co.uk/latest/carmarthenshire-primary-schools-cross-country-championships-2022-makes-a-welcome-return-to-the-county-pembrey-country-park/

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Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans

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A VETERAN from Pont-Henri in Carmarthenshire is putting his best foot forward to supporting wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Anthony Spencer, 34 – who suffers with PTSD after serving two tours of Afghanistan – will be on the start-line of the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on 2 October.

And while he laughs at his “abysmal” training ahead of the event, he says he will pound the streets of Cardiff in order to raise money for True Heroes Racing – the UK’s only motorcycle race team dedicated to supporting UK Service personnel and veterans who are wounded, injured and sick:

“As a military veteran myself who still suffers with PTSD, I understand the difficulty that face those who leave the military with mental, physical or social difficulties. True Heroes Racing is a family open to anyone with military ties and I’m hoping to raise much-needed funds to continue my support for this great cause.”

Spencer joined the military as a Royal Engineer when he turned 16:

“Over the course of my career in the army, I was involved in many incidents. I was part of a frontline patrol unit working with the Afghanistan National Army.

“Perhaps the most catastrophic event was a roadside IED – an improvised explosive device – in Helmand province. It hit me a year or two later and I started drinking more and I was becoming more distant and reserved.

“Even now, it affects me. It impacts on my sleep – I only get a few hours here and there a night. And it affects my anxiety levels which make tasks such as travelling incredibly stressful. Loud noises and day-to-day stresses can seem unbearable.”

He was discharged in 2016 and since then he has thrown himself into work. Now a Chief Technical Officer for a Global Technology company.

“I managed to get a successful job. After having a rough ride of things myself but coming out the other end, I decided to try and do something good.

“There isn’t much support for veterans – medical or financial – so what this race team does is absolutely astonishing. We currently have two riders who are amputees and they are both racing at incredibly high competitive levels against able-bodied riders.”

The bikes are customised so that riders who have disabilities can race:

“The customisation is ground-breaking. We have a variety of veterans and serving personnel racing including an arm amputee so True Heroes Racing have been able to adapt the bike for him. But it all comes at a cost. Racing is an expensive sport and in many cases it can cost £40,000 or more per year to run a bike.

“We’re one big family and lots of people can get involved whether it’s as a mechanic, a photographer, a rider or helping to sell merchandise. It’s a great thing to throw your energy into after leaving the military.”

You can donate to Anthony’s  Justgiving page here: Crowdfunding to Raise vital money for a great cause http://trueheroesracing.co.uk. A unique team for military veterans and serving personal on JustGiving

The Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries going on sale.

The race is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.

A record number of runners from outside Wales (both across the UK and overseas) are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh welcome.

The race is now a part of the SuperHalfs – an international half marathon series including races in Lisbon, Prague, Valencia, Copenhagen and Cardiff. It challengers runners to complete the five race circuit in 36 months in order to earn a ‘SuperMedal’ and other exclusive benefits/prizes.

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Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir

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CARMARTHEN put the disappointment of the defeat against Barry Town in their last Cymru South League match well and truly behind them by inflicting this crushing victory on Ynyshir in this first ever meeting between these clubs.

And the Old Gold put the hosts under pressure from the very start with a series of penetrating attacks. As early as the 1st minute Greg Walters, in his own half, sent a superb pass through to Will Rikard who in turn set Noah Daley racing clear and into the penalty area – however, while his subtle lofted shot defeated goal-keeper Howe the ball flew narrowly over the bar.

Then on 3 minutes Bradley Gibbings sprinted along the right flank and threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but Town’s all-time top scorer saw his crisp drive denied by Howe diving swiftly down to claim the ball.

Town continued to dominate these early stages of the game and, almost predictably, they soon took the lead. In the 13th minute Thomas, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward to Rikard who in turn swiftly fed the ball onto Gibbings – the influential midfielder then finished this delightful move by drilling a 15-yard shot beyond Howe’s reach and into the back of the net.

While the Old Gold maintained their hold of the game, for a short spell they seemed unable to test the Ynyshir defence in any meaningful way and with both teams too often guilty of misplacing passes there was little prospect of goalmouth action.

Yet that all changed after 37 minutes. A poor back-pass by an Albions’ defender forced Howe into making a hurried clearance – however Thomas, alert to the situation, blocked the ball at close-range and it rebounded into the net much to his delight.

Encouraged by that success Carmarthen once more began to dominate the play and on 43 minutes they extended their lead. Mathew Delaney embarked on a determined run from the half-way line to reach the by-line before sending a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas found space to drive the ball past Howe and into the back of the net.

Then after 45 minutes Gibbings made a strong run into the penalty area and held off two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that Howe, dropping smartly down, managed to turn around the post.

After the interval Ynyshir began positively and were soon rewarded with an early goal. On 48 minutes a smart passing move from the right-wing opened up the Town defence and finished with Cambell, in clear space on the edge of the goal area, firing the ball past goal-keeper Ivan Knott and into the back of the net.

For a spell the Old Gold defence remained under some pressure but it coped capably and no further significant threat to their goal arose.

While the rest of the match was quite evenly-balanced in open play, it was evident that Carmarthen were far more of a threat in sight of goal – and, almost predictably, they extended their lead when on 59 minutes Delaney, from the left flank, sent an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal area and saw Daley, at the far post, tap the ball into the net.

Town went close to scoring again after 71 minutes. Adam John fired a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Lee Surman saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line – the ball rebounded to Sam Parsons but his follow-up shot was also cleared.

However, the late frenzy of activity in and around the Albions’ penalty area did have a productive ending for the Old Gold when, deep into added time, another corner-kick reached Scott Tancock beyond the far post – he headed the ball back into the packed goalmouth where Parsons forced it into the net.

This win has consolidated Carmarthen’s position in the top six of the Cymru South League and with just 3 points currently separating those clubs every point from forthcoming matches is clearly vital – the next being against Afan Lido on October 1, at Richmond Park k/o 2.30pm.

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