Tour de France

5 famous Welsh moments in sports

2018-07-29 19:40
Geraint Thomas (Getty Images)
Geraint Thomas (Getty Images)

Paris - Geraint Thomas' success in the Tour de France highlighted once again that despite being a nation of just over three million, Wales produces its fair share of great athletes.

Five memorable sporting achievements by Welsh athletes:

Joe Calzaghe

Boxer known as 'The Pride of Wales' - although born in London - his family moved to Wales when he was two. Trained by his Italian father Enzo he would retire in 2009 with an unblemished record of 46 wins in 46 bouts and as the undisputed super-middleweight world champion - he held the WBO version for almost 11 years - and The Ring's world light heavyweight world champion beating two legends in Bernard Hopkins and then defending it against Roy Jones Jr. All the more impressive he fought both in the USA and was floored in the first round in each bout only to come back and win. "There are no more mountains left to climb," said Calzaghe when he retired.     

Jade Jones

Known as 'The Headhunter', Jones won two Olympic taekwondo gold medals in 2012 and 2016. "To be a double Olympic champion seems surreal," said the engaging Welsh girl from the town of Bodelwyddan in North Wales. She will be eternally grateful to her grandfather Martin Foulkes when, only eight-years-old, he said taekwondo would be excellent for self-defence and by her own admission she was getting to be a "bit naughty". She is targeting a third Olympic gold in Tokyo in 2020.

Lynn Davies

He certainly earned the nickname 'Lynn the Leap' when aged just 22 he won the Olympic long jump gold medal in Tokyo in 1964. Competing in pouring rain, Davies - who had only taken up the event when he moved to Cardiff from his village of Nantymoel - held his own against the then world record holder and 1960 champion Ralph Boston of the United States and the former record holder, the Soviet Union's Igor Ter-Ovanesyan. Davies was in bronze medal position before seizing the lead with his penultimate jump of 8.07m and neither of his rivals were able to pass him. He remains the only Welsh athlete to have won track or field Olympic gold. "The Welsh gods were looking over the stadium because it was truly Welsh weather," he recalled years later. "These were my two heroes who I had beaten in the Olympic final. It took a long time to sink in."  

Sirrell Griffiths

To turn over a national sporting treasure usually earns you close to a tarring and feathering. However, the engaging 50-year-old Welsh dairy farmer and horse trainer did not fit the bill for the pantomime villain as he sent out his 100/1 chance Norton's Coin to deny the iconic grey Desert Orchid a second successive Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1990. Griffiths recalled to Wales Online in 2015 how the then Queen Mother was in awe of his feat. "She knew I came from West Wales and had cows. She asked me how could I come and win the Gold Cup with only a couple of horses in the stable. She said that she and her late husband (King George VI) had tried for years without success.”     

Ian Woosnam

Golfer Woosnam won the 1991 Masters to don the fabled green jacket in Augusta. Part of a golden generation of European golfers - Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo - Woosnam, 33, became the first Welshman to win a major.  Then the world number one, he arrived at the final hole tied with playing partner Tom Watson and Jose Maria Olazabal, who was in the pair ahead but who bogeyed the 18th to fall one shot back. Watson then double-bogeyed and Woosnam, dressed in striking red tartan trousers, made par and punched the air in delight as he sealed victory. "There was a voice saying to me, 'This is your time, step up'," he told The Independent in 2016 about the par putt. "All those other guys in what they called the 'Big Five' had won. It was my turn."

Read more on:    wales  |  tdf 2018  |  cycling

 

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