Our latest post in a series of blogs on Community Sport comes from Aly Rowell. Aly is a freelance sports broadcaster, primarily with BBC. She has competed for Great Britain in the sport of modern pentathlon and now likes to dabble in triathlon.
Before I started at BBC Wales I was competing professionally in Modern Pentathlon. It’s not a common sport, so growing up I was a member of the local swimming, athletics, fencing and pony clubs.
It’s the hours of training spent at these clubs as a youngster that lay the foundations for a sporting career. I’ll never forget the advice coaches gave me when I was a youngster – guidance that stays with you as an athlete and which I now find insightful and useful in my second career as a journalist.
Working in sports journalism, it’s now not often I get a chance to visit the huge number of grassroots sports clubs in almost every town or village in Wales. But every athlete or sportsperson that I interview will have arrived at one of these local clubs as a child, with little or no experience of that sport.
All major titles and accolades that they might have won can be traced back to their first experiences at their local clubs. After all, it was the enthusiasm and knowledge of the coaches in these clubs that got them hooked for life.
Would we have athletes such as Helen Jenkins if she hadn’t gone to Bridgend Swimming Club as a youngster? Or Geraint Thomas to Maindy Flyers or Dai Greene to Swansea Harriers?
It’s these clubs that should take at least some credit for any Olympic medals won this summer.