Wales looking good says Banning
Gary Baker on 14/06/2006
Welsh athletics is in good shape despite the lack of a gold medal at March’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, believes national performance director Phil Banning.
Wales got a silver medal through high jumper Julie Crane in the Games and bronzes from 1500 metre ace Hayley Tullett, who has now retired from major competition and made her farewell appearance at the Welsh Championships at Leckwith Stadium, Cardiff, on June 18, and 100m EAD athlete Beverley Jones.
So, think Banning, the mood is uplifting around athletics despite injury and illness problems which wrecked the chances of some gold medal contenders like Christian Malcolm, Matt Elias, Philippa Roles and James Thie last March.
Banning said: “I think we are in a strong position. We are the equivalent in population with Manchester. Can Manchester have as many coaches, as man clubs and as big an organisation running athletics as us? Of course not.
“We are very lucky in that respect. We have been doing well for quite a while now. Schools are getting more challenged now to get more people fit. That’s where our future is.
“What we have to do now is make sport more attractive and make our Under-15 and Under-17 athletes feel important. We have to make sure that we identify the kids who need help to make them better athletes.
“We have a lot of coaches in Wales although we always want more. It’s a matter now of making people know they are wanted and needed.”
Now that teacher Tullett has retired, maybe she could perform a useful role at her school for athletics as other performers in that industry can and could do.
Banning added: “Hayley is teaching so she is going to be in a position where she will have an avenue in her job for this. I would like to see the likes of Rachel King, who is going into teaching, doing the same. Sarah Moore also does her part for us in schools.
“If they get involved, then, even if it is only at schools level, that’s what we need. They are our eyes and ears on the ground out there.
“Welsh athletics is quite good because we do get people back into the sport. We are doing something right because we are becoming a family of athletes. It’s a far-reaching family as well that stretches in all directions.”
And the governing body of the sport in the Principality is having a bit of a makeover themselves, having now moved from their previous offices at the Celtic Manor to Leckwith Stadium where they have new members of staff in IT and other areas.
Also they are being re-branded from the old Athletic Association of Wales that they have been for many years to the simpler Welsh Athletics name.
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