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:
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
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.
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."
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.”
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."