Hart is the golden girl as Welsh teenagers get a taste of the Olympics at UK school games
Gary Baker on 24/06/2012
Badminton player Jordan Hart was a double golden girl as Wales came home with an array of medals at this year's UK School Games in London.
The Games, normally held later in the late summer, were brought forward due to this year's Olympic and Paralympic tournaments in the capital city.
But that did not stop Welsh boys and girls from reaping a harvest of victories and some excellent performances at the venues which will be centre stage next month.
Hart is a potential star in the making and showed just what ability she has got with victory on the badminton court not once but twice.
She did not drop a game all through the girls singles tournament, and beat leading English teenager Jessica Pugh in the final by 21-16, 21-10.
Hart also teamed-up with Ellen Mahenthiralingam to romp through the girls doubles and beat Northern Ireland's Keady Smith and Alannah Stephenson 21-12, 21-16 for gold.
Wales took silver in the boys epee team fencing competition behind England, and it was the same result in the girls team foil and sabre disciplines.
Individually, Ethan Ridsdale took silver in the boys foil, while Harriet Dixon also came runner-up in the girls sabre.
Britain are beginning to come alive on the senior world gymnastics stage, and there was plenty of action during the School Games in this sport.
Wales came second in the girls team competition at the ExCel Centre which will be hosting the real Olympic thing in July.
They finished on 188.900 points, just 15.35 points short of winners England but nearly 60 points ahead of bronze medallists Northern Ireland, giving Welsh Gymnastics plenty of encouragement about the talent for the future.
Wales also has a good tradition on the judo mat, particularly with the new state-of-the-art Dojo in the Welsh Institute of Sport, Cardiff, only opened last year.
And that tradition continued with two silver medals in London.
Kirsty Powell came runner-up to Scotland's Eilish Walker in the girls 57 kilo category, while Tom Royles was thrown for Ippon by England's John Jayne in the boys 73kg class final for his silver.
Wales did not do too well on the Volleyball court as they came up against strong opposition (Wales pictured top right in action against England - courtesy Action Images/Alex Morton), but they were on the golden trail on the Olympic Games track where superstar Usain Bolt will be aiming for more athletics history.
Welshpool High School pupil Adele Nicoll threw an excellent 13.71m in the girls shot putt final second round and held onto her lead right through the six rounds of the competition to hold off the challenge of South West's Annabel Sherry to take gold.
Matthew Williams, from the Maelor School, Wrexham, was another gold medal thrower as he launched his discuss 43.85m also in the second round of competition. And it was lucky he got that distance as four of his six attempts were failures.
Awen Rosser was also a gold medallist in the girls discus. She was behind South East's Georgie Taylor going into round five, with Taylor throwing 39.80m compared to Rosser's 39.65m.
But the Welsh girl, from Ysgol Y Strade, Llanelli, came back with a mighty fifth round throw of 40.04m which was enough to earn her top spot.
Wales won silver in a couple of disciplines on the track and field. The girls 200m saw Beth Sargent, drawn right on the outside in lane eight, having an excellent half-lap and coming home behind South East girl Dina Asher-Smith in 25.06secs.
Zoe Dakin, from Ysgol Gyfun Llanhan in Llanharry, produced an excellent series of throws in the girls hammer final to clinch silver, having a toe-to-toe battle with eventual gold medallist Emma Bowie, from Scotland,
Dakin threw 44.22m in the final round of six which gave Bowie a mighty scare as she threw 44.47m and failed with her last attempt.
And Wales had another throwing silver when Connor Laverty, from Ysgol Gyfun David Hughes, Ynys Mon, threw 16.12m in round four of the boys shot putt and was heading for gold until Scotland's Robbie Nairn snatched the victory out of the Welsh boys fingers with a final throw of 16.15m.
So a clutch of medals came home across the Severn Bridge but all the Welsh athletes will have enjoyed taking part at the venues they will see on TV next month and remember their once-in-a-lifetime experience at the UK School Games in Olympic and Paralympic year.
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