Commonwealth Games Wales have today announced the first para-athletes selected for Team Wales ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Six athletes have been chosen to compete for Wales in para-athletics at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. James Ledger, Rhys Jones and Morgan Jones will represent Wales in the men’s 100m events (T12, T37 and T47), whilst Olivia Breen will compete in the women’s T38 100m as well as the women’s T38 long jump. Ranked number 1 in the world in the T38 category, Olivia will be competing alongside T37 long jumper Beverley Jones. Hollie Arnold, who also currently holds a top world ranking spot, has been selected for the women’s F46 javelin event.
The Commonwealth Games is the only international multi-sport event which features an integrated para-sport programme. 2018 will see the largest para-sport programme in the history of the Games - with up to 300 para-athletes and 38 medal events across seven sports. This is an increase of 45% more athletes and 73% more medals compared to the para-sport competition staged at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
Helen Phillips, Chair of the Commonwealth Games Wales Board who confirmed the selections, said: “Congratulations to the para-athletes who have been selected to represent Team Wales in athletics at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. They have all achieved great results on the international sporting stage, and we look forward to seeing them make Wales proud once again next year. Being chosen for Team Wales is testament to their commitment, passion and dedication and also the excellent support of their coaches, families, Disability Sport Wales and Welsh Athletics.”
Disability Sport Wales CEO, Fiona Reid said: “Disability Sport Wales are delighted to see the inclusion of these para-athletes within Team Wales. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will showcase the highest number of para-sport events ever at a Commonwealth Games, and I’m absolutely thrilled to see a strong team of para-athletes selected to the Athletics team. With a mix of World Champions & Paralympic Champions as well as newly identified athletes, it shows the strength in the para-athlete development we have in here in Wales.”
Welsh Athletics Head of Coaching and Performance, Scott Simpson, said: “Welsh Athletics are delighted with the selection of 6 para-sport athletes in this first wave of Team Wales announcements. There is a wealth of experience within this group; with 4 of them having previously competed at multi-sport Games, and two of them having delivered medals on the world stage. This combined with the youth of some of the sprinting talent provides an exciting blend of experience that will undoubtedly deliver some great performances and results in the Gold Coast.”
Chair of the Welsh Athletics Board of Directors, Carol Anthony, added: “The selection of these athletes is just reward for their incredible efforts in 2017 – all six of them having set personal bests this year. It is both recognition of their achievements to date and a positive reflection on the great work that is going on behind the scenes to support their development. This will be the largest ever contingent of para sport athletes representing Wales at a Commonwealth Games and I am confident that they will do so with pride and passion. I would like to extend my very best wishes, on behalf of Welsh Athletics, to each of them in their pursuit of success at the Games.”
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Hollie Arnold (F46 Javelin)
PB set in 2017 – 43.02m when winning gold at the 2017 IPC World Championships – adding to the golds she won in 2015 and 2013. She also won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games with a new World Record.
Olivia Breen (T38 100m and T38 Long Jump) – Coach: Aston Moore
PB set in 2017 – 13.24s (100m) and 4.81m (LJ) set when winning gold at the IPC World Championships. Olivia is a 2016 Paralympian and is still U23.
Beverley Jones (T37 Long Jump) – Coach: Geoff Ward
PB set in 2017 – 3.92m. More well known as a thrower, having competed at 4 Paralympic Games, 2 IPC World Championships and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Now a Masters athlete in the V40 category.
Morgan Jones (T47 100m) – Coach: Christian Malcolm
PB set in 2017 – 11.84s. A former long/triple jumper who has now moved into sprinting and is guided by Christian Malcolm.
Rhys Jones (T37 100m) – Coach: Christian Malcolm
PB set in 2017 – 11.69s at the IPC World Championships. Rhys also placed 6th at the Rio Paralympic Games.
James Ledger (T12 100m) – Coach: Christian Malcolm
PB set in 2017 – 11.67s. A former Long Jump athlete who recently moved to Christian Malcolm’s training group and is now focussing on sprinting.