Monday, February 27, 2012

World Class Welsh Sport: Laura McAllister's View

As we pin on the daffodils and celebrate all things Welsh this week, culminating in the St David's Day celebrations on Thursday (1 March), we spoke to some of Wales' most respected voices in Welsh sport and policy to find out why they think Wales is such a great sporting nation.

In this first installment we hear from Wales' top sporting administrator, Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister.

“Sport matters to us in Wales it’s a part of our national identity. When our elite athletes and national teams do well at the weekend we’re all talking about it the following week and the feel-good factor is noticeable.

“We have a world class rugby team who were the talk of the Rugby World Cup and now the current Six Nations campaign. We expect great things of our talented young national football side under the stewardship of new manager Chris Coleman. Cardiff City also did extremely well to reach the final of the Carling Cup to fly the flag for Welsh football. And Swansea City have looked every bit a Premiership team in their debut season in the top flight.

“We should also of course celebrate our world champions in Dai Greene, Nathan Stephens, Chaz Davies, Helen Jenkins and Nathan Cleverly. Other world class athletes who are owning the podium at major events include Jade Jones, Mark Colbourne, Hannah Mills and Steven Thomas. With London 2012 racing ever nearer Wales can proudly lay claim to several Olympic champions in Nicole Cooke, Tom James and Geraint Thomas. We also claimed 25% of GB’s Paralympic medal success in Beijing thanks to the likes of David Roberts, Simon Richardson and Liz Johnson.

“In all, Welsh athletes have brought home in excess of 1,000 medals at significant Games since the turn of the new millennium. We should be immensely proud of those successes and of the people behind our athletes’ success; our sports science and medicine teams, coaches, governing body and administrative staff. We have great people in Wales, with a winning mentality, that are driving us towards being a nation of champions. That’s true across the board; from the elite to the grassroots levels of sport.

“Our communities are full of motivators, often unpaid volunteers, whose sheer passion for sport is helping children to get hooked on sport for life and giving them positive first experiences that should give them a lifetime of enjoyment in sport. Our ambition is to double our current number of volunteers, to galvanise 10% of the population to pitch in to help their local club.

“The future for sport in Wales looks very bright indeed and we will continue to work hard to make sure that we have even more reasons to celebrate Welsh sport next St David’s Day and beyond.”

Find out more about our great sporting nation and test your Welsh sporting knowledge with's interactive quiz.