The Disability Sport Wales virtual awards celebrated the outstanding inspirational achievements of people across Wales, after an extraordinary 12 months in which tournaments and championships returned, and athletes, organisations, coaches and volunteers reengaged with sport from initial involvement through to performance at the very highest level after two years of lockdowns and restricted training.
The awards ceremony was held online and aired on the Disability Sport Wales’ website, Facebook and YouTube channels on Friday (24 June) – meaning that it was viewed around the world and made available to an unlimited number of people. Presented by Sam Lloyd and Paralympian Aled Davies, it was broadcast in both English and Welsh, with subtitles and BSL.
From inspirational stories, personal bests, the growth of club sports, the continued development of the insport programme which introduces and engages more and more people with sport, the expansion of the SPAR-supported insport Series Events, the success of the Performance Pathway Hub Programme and the medal-winning triumphs on the international stage, including the Summer and Winter Paralympics.
With so many worthy and deserving participants, competitors and volunteers, creating a list of nominees for the annual Disability Sport Wales awards was extremely difficult – and selecting the category winners even more difficult.
Fiona Reid, CEO Disability Sport Wales, said: “This has been an incredible evening of celebration, as well as an opportunity to remember people who have been part of our journeys and reflect on the challenges as well as the achievements of so many.
“This year marks ten years since the launch of insport, and we saw the first NGB in Wales attain insport NGB Gold this year. Everyone involved with inclusive sport in Wales should be proud of the differences that they make, whatever they do. The Awards evening gives us a chance to congratulate others for the work they do and to say diolch yn fawr.”
Here are the award winners, recognised by Disability Sport Wales for their outstanding contribution to sport:
The North Wales Crusaders Wheelchair Rugby League Club was set up in April 2013 in a joint venture between North Wales Crusaders, Wales Rugby League and Disability Sports Wales with the aim of making the game accessible to all in North Wales. Thanks to the work of its passionate volunteers, reaching out and making every newcomer feel incredibly welcome and at home, the club has been an outstanding success. It was the first Rugby League club to be awarded the insport Blue Ribbon standard and it has also received Bronze and Silver awards. The team play and train at Deeside Leisure Centre, Queensferry.
Stephen Jones (Chair, North Wales Crusaders Wheelchair Rugby League Club): “I’d just like to say a thank you to everyone who has made this award possible for the Crusaders Wheelchair Rugby League Club. We strive to make sure that people with disabilities are always made welcome, whether they want to come as players, a member or spectator, and our volunteers make sure the club is a special place to be. To win the insport Organisation Award is a phenomenal achievement and its purely down the club and what we offer everyone.”
Ana, from Carmel near Holywell, won gold with Team GB's Junior Women Under 24s at the Wheelchair Basketball European Championships when she was just 14 years old. The North Wales Knights player is also a three-time British champion and captained the Team Wales Wheelchair Basketball squad during its 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification campaign.
Ana Blease: “I just want to thank everyone around me for supporting me throughout this year and helping me along the way. I’m really pleased to have won the Disability Sport Wales Emerging Athlete of the Year award as it means the world to me. I just want to thank all my support system, all my friends and family and my coaches. It’s been a brilliant year and thanks so much.”
An inspiration to everyone who meets her, Mia was determined to continue to play sport after her left leg was amputated above the knee. Her new journey started at an insport event and now the Cardigan teenager enjoys wheelchair basketball, swimming, golf, climbing, adaptive skiing and para-cycling. Her ambition is to compete in track athletics at a Paralympic Games.
Mia nominated Andrew Toft, Gemma Cutter, Morgan Jones and Paul Drayton as individuals who have been key in inspiring her.
Mia Lloyd: “Thank you so much to all these amazing people – you have inspired me along my pathway and I hope that one day I can repay you for your kindness and generosity by making you proud. Diolch!”
Menna became the most decorated British Winter Paralympian of all time after winning silver in the Super-G – her fifth Paralympic medal – in Beijing, having won four medals, including slalom gold, at the Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang in 2018. She is also the first British skier to win both Paralympic and World Para titles.
Menna Fitzpatrick: “Thank you so much! It’s a massive honour to win the Disability Sport Wales Athlete of the Year award and I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way – that’s my family, my guide Katie Guest, Gary Smith for being an amazing reserve guide, to all the coaches and to all the ski technicians that I’ve worked with over the years to get me to this stage. I’d just like to say a massive thank you and well done to all the nominees who have done amazing and I’m super proud to be up there with you guys. Thank you so much!”
Jane is a highly respected sports coach from the village of Llangybi in Monmouthshire who has over 30 years of experience. She started as a recreational runner with a local running club and began coaching in mainstream athletics. An academy coach volunteer for Disability Sport Wales' athletics squad, she has worked with some of the sports top athletes, including Paralympians Rhys Jones and Kyron Duke. Jane is a former chairwoman of the Welsh Sports Association for People with a Learning Disability, a Trustee Director for the UK Sports Association for People with a Learning Disability and a board member of Disability Sport Wales. She was also part of the Torch Relay for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Anthony Hughes MBE, Disability Sport Wales’ National Performance Manager, said: “On behalf of everyone at Disability Sport Wales, I’d like to say an amazing thanks and congratulations to what you have brought, what you have done and what you have given to the sport. Jane, I know that you have made huge sacrifices over the years, and I can honestly say, as a man who is not easily impressed, that you have made a massive impact on the lives of so many young people.”
The Disability Sport Wales virtual awards can be viewed online at:
For more information, please contact Paul Evans DSW Communications Officer on: email@example.com / 07710 743167