Connors lifelong love of gymnastics receives itsí rightful recognition
Gary Baker on 21/12/2011
Stuart Connor may not be the most recognized sporting hero in the country, but among gymnasts in the valleys, he is a living legend.
The 68-year-old has dedicated his life to guiding youngsters from raw beginners to reach their potential - and have a lot of fun in the process.
And, justifiably, Connor has been recognized for his four decades of watching over and helping the gymnasts of the Gwent valleys with a special trophy at this year's Sport Wales Coach of the Year Awards in Cardiff.
He was one of two people, along with lifelong Pwllheli Sailing Club legend Gwyndaf Hughes, who received the Special Recognition award this year.
Connor's contribution to gymnastics in Abertillery has not just been restricted to performance matters either.
He has been at the centre of helping save his club after Abertillery Indoor Bowls Centre, where the gymnastics facilities were housed, was closed down.
Connor helped with the merger of Abertillery GC with the Valleys Gymnastic Academy in Croespennmaen, which should secure their future for years to come.
As for his gymnasts, Connor has nurtured many Welsh champions and Welsh internationals from the valleys.
But, personally, his award made Connor extremely proud. He said: "As far as I was concerned, I was nominated for an award and I had no inclination whatsoever that I was going to get it. So it was very much a pleasure.
"I am very proud of the fact that I have produced lots of girls, maybe not British internationals, but Welsh internationals along the line."
It is from the bottom up that Welsh stars are produced. Connor added: "The broader the grass-roots is, the more opportunities you have to climb the pyramid and get successful.
"I think everybody is concentrating on broadening the group's roots. I don't think it is a conscience decision, I think it is how everyone thinks.
"We have to take on more children to make a better youth set-up and so on. That is the way we are tackling it in our sport. Everybody is encouraging beginners and trying to get the best development out of those beginners.
"It is incumbent on all of us coaches to support high level coaches like Tracey (Skirton-Davies. Welsh national coach) and feed her the talent from underneath. By doing that, people like Tracey can stick to what they do and we can carry on and get the best results we can for her.
"Undoubtedly, in the Welsh squad, there is some outstanding talent and we will become top of the pops."
back to article index