Disability Sport Wales’ magnificent seven selected for Team GB at the World Para Athletics European Championships
Seven Welsh athletes have been selected to compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Para Athletics European Championships, which takes place at the Zdzisław Krzyszkowiak Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland (1-5 June).
Those aiming for medals will be six-time European champion Aled Davies, who will be seeking his fourth consecutive F63 shot put title.
It will be an important competition for the distinguished 29-year old from Bridgend, as it will also provide a pre-Paralympic Games dress rehearsal, as Davies prepares to defend his gold medal in Tokyo later in the year.
Reigning T33 100m European sprint champion Harri Jenkins has also been selected. The 25-year old Neath-born DSW Para Academy athlete, who also won gold at the 2018 WPA European Championships in Berlin, is another firm medal hopeful.
Kyron Duke, the 28-year-old Newport athlete who represented Wales in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in powerlifting and is also an accomplished javelin thrower, will be aiming to beat his personal best of 14.19 metres in the F41 shot put classification.
Olivia Breen has once again been selected for Team GB to compete in both the T38 long jump and 100m sprint. The 24-year old has experience of competing in big tournaments, having qualified for the 2012 Paralympics as well as representing Wales at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games – winning gold in the long jump at the Gold Coast (2018).
Rhys Jones will compete in the T37 100m and 200m sprint events. The 26-year old from Clydach Vale in the Rhondda has excelled on the big stage before, reaching the final of the 200m at the 2012 Paralympics.
Caerphilly’s John Bridge, who turns 22 next month, will compete in the T47 400m sprint. The World Para Athletics European Championships will be the first time he has been selected for Team GB and competed at a major senior tournament.
Harrison Walsh will also make his Team GB and major senior tournament debut. The Mumbles-based 25-year old former Wales Under-20 international and Ospreys player, whose rugby career ended after a freak knee injury, has been selected to compete in the F64 discus throw.
Anthony Hughes MBE, Disability Sport Wales’ National Performance Manager, said: “We were thrilled and delighted to see that seven Welsh Para Athletes have been selected to represent GB at the World Para Athletics European Championships in Poland, which represents fifteen per cent of the entire forty-seven strong GB team.
“We have experienced competitors in Aled Davies, Rhys Jones, Olivia Breen, Kyron Duke and Harri Jenkins, who has recently recovered from illness, who are all very strong medal hopefuls.
“We are equally excited to see Harrison Walsh and John Bridge make their senior major tournament debuts, as this once again proves that our Disability Sport Wales Performance and Pathway Programme is working and that the great work being done in collaboration with Welsh Athletics performance programmes, to develop Welsh home nation based technical programmes, continues to work exceptionally well. Yet again I believe Wales is leading the way in the UK home countries Para programmes.
“It’s very encouraging to see young athletes come through our system. Wales is gaining a reputation for consistently developing fresh talent and providing them with the skills to compete in the world’s biggest tournaments, like the European Championships, Commonwealth Games and Paralympics.
“Bydgoszcz really is a beautiful track and arena, and I’d like to congratulate all seven athletes for being selected to the GB team and wish them all the very best of luck.
“There are of course two Disability Sport Wales Paralympic gold medal winning athletes not on the GB team list. Both Holly Arnold MBE [F46 javelin gold medal winner at the 2016 Paralympics] and Sabrina Fortune [F20 shot put bronze medal winner at the 2016 Paralympics and gold medal winner at the 2019 World Para Athletics] were both selected for the GB squad, but both have chosen not to compete in Poland, and instead continue to focus on their training and preparation for the Paralympics in Tokyo. We support them one hundred per cent in their decision, and will be cheering them on as they aim for Paralympic gold later in the year.”
Disability Sport Wales athletes selected to compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Para Athletics European Championships:
Olivia Breen – T38 Long Jump and 100m
John Bridge – T47 400m
Aled Davies – F63 Shot Put
Kyron Duke – F41 Shot Put
Harri Jenkins – T33 100m
Rhys Jones – T37 100m and 200m
Harrison Walsh – F64 Discus Throw