Tuesday, February 28, 2012

World Class Welsh Sport: Michaela Breeze and Melissa Hyndman's Views

In our second installment of opinion pieces to celebrate St David's Day we hear from Commonwealth gold medallist, and one of Wales’ most experienced athletes, former Olympic weightlifter, Michaela Breeze and Welsh National Netball Team coach, and Celtic Dragons Super League coach, Melissa Hyndman about what they think makes Wales such a great sporting nation.

Michaela Breeze MBE

“The passion and sense of belonging for me is what makes Wales a great sporting nation.  No matter who the athlete, or what the team, when Welsh Athletes compete, the country gets behind them fully. There is a real pride that is shared across the nation and it is this that I believe fuels the desire of athletes to achieve great results.

“Before there can be athletes, there must be coaches and other individuals who inspire and dedicate their lives to helping others achieve success. These people often go unheralded but actually they are critical to many sporting triumphs and success stories. My coach and mentor, and one of Britain and Wales's most successful lifters, Andrew Davies gave generously of his time to help guide and nurture me through the highs and lows of being an elite athlete. The likes of Ray Williams (National Weightlifting Coach), who himself was a great Welsh lifter, now inspires youngsters to take up the sport and will be heavily involved in the future success of this great sporting nation.

“While representing Team Wales at the last three Commonwealth Games, the support that I received from all the support staff, not just during Games time but in the months and even years building up to it, was fantastic.  Everyone from the physios and massage therapists, to media staff and the Chef de Mission were fully behind me. Without their support and belief, through the highs and lows, achieving the results I did would have been so much harder.  In particular, the support from Welsh Weightlifting has been amazing."

Melissa Hyndman

"I have been in this beautiful country now for two years (Melissa is originally from New Zealand) and  I knew it was going to be a big change for me and my very big family (seven children in total but only five children are here with my very supportive hubby and I). 

"This country is very similar to my NZ, in so many ways in terms of family, sport and culture. All three are very instrumental to Welsh people and also to Kiwi’s. Maybe that's the connection that attracts so many international coaches, from not just netball but also rugby, to Wales. 

"I consider myself 100% adoptive Welsh. In fact back home I’m known as a ‘Westie’ - as I live in West Auckland - so it seems politically correct to call myself a ‘Welshy’ now.

"Since I have been in Cardiff, I have meet the most amazing people with so much pride and passion for this country. It is something that overwhelms me and keeps me so focused on what I have to do while I’m here as the National Netball Coach because I have that pride and passion running through my veins. I am so excited about the talent in this country and what we are going to do to develop and nurture it. It’s a privilege to be a part of it at this integral stage.

"Wales is a high achieving sporting nation and netball is one sport that is climbing fast on the international ladder. This sport has some inspiring women at the helm who embody all that is good for Welsh sport.  These will be successful role models for our young up and coming sporting future."

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