Friday 22 December 2023
2023 has been an amazing year for athletics and running in Wales, with Welsh Athletes performing superbly on the World Stage. History was made at the Commonwealth Youth Games, medals galore at the World Para Athletics Championships, and great performances in Budapest at the World Championships. Not forgetting many Welsh records broken. It has been a year to remember!
The year got underway with the Welsh Senior & U15 Indoor Championships at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff. After breaking the U15’s 1500m indoor record at last year's Junior Open, Libby Hale (Swansea Harriers) improved on the Welsh Record by 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:33:20. On day 2 of the competition, in the U15 Girls 3000m Bryony Boyce (Cardiff Athletics) smashed the Welsh Record by 17 seconds with a time of 10:23:64.
The following month the 118 Welsh Cross Country Championships headed to Penlan Arena in Brecon. The Championships saw Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers) secure his eighth Welsh Cross Country Title, with Olivia Tsim (Pontypridd Roadents) securing the senior women’s title.
Following success at the UK Athletics Indoor Championships in February, Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Poole AC), Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff Athletics) and Joe Brier (Swansea Harriers) headed to Istanbul in March to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the European Indoor Athletics Championships. Melissa (Poole AC) continued her great indoor season, claiming bronze in the women’s 3000m picking up Great Britain’s first medal of the Championships. Jeremiah (Cardiff Athletics) finished 6 in the men’s 60m final, and Joe (Swansea Harriers) finished 5 in the men’s 4x400m relay final.
Melissa Courtney-Bryant celebrates winning bronze at the
European Athletics Indoor Championships.
Amber Simpson (Wrexham / Memphis) continued to break records during April, throwing a huge distance of 68.13m at the Memphis Tigers International and extending her own Welsh record that was set just a few weeks earlier in the hammer throw. Amber has gone on to break three Welsh Records since January 2023.
During May we saw an all-Welsh team represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Race-Walking European Championships, with Bethan Davies (Cardiff Athletics) and Heather Warner (Pembrokeshire Harriers) in action. Bethan finished 14 in the 35km competition, whilst Heather finished 26 in the 20km race.
It was a busy summer of Track and field competitions, with the Welsh Track & Field Championships, the UK Athletics Championships, the World Para Athletics Championships, the Commonwealth Youth Games and the World Athletics Championships.
The Welsh Senior & U15 Championships returned in June, with two athletes extending their own Welsh records. Libby Hale (Swansea Harriers) was able to break the U15 1500m Welsh record after securing the win in 4:26.75 to also take the UK lead for the age group. Whilst Olivia Scrimshaw (Deeside AAC) extended her Welsh triple jump record from last season to 11.77m. Whilst, in the U15 Girls Hammer Throw, there was a new Championship Best Performance for Evie Cooper (Neath Harriers) throwing a huge distance of 50.81m, a 3m improvement on her previous best to see her ranked 1 in the UK.
It was also a dream day for the Brier family as both Hannah and Joe Brier (Swansea Harriers) took gold in their 400m finals, Hannah finishing in 54.13s and Joe finishing in 45.96s. This is the first time that siblings have both won the same event at a Welsh Championships.
It was a successful weekend in Manchester at the UK Athletics Championships, which saw 5 Welsh medals, a Welsh Record, and a number of personal bests.
Jeremiah Azu became the fastest Welshman of all time, running 10.08 in the 100m heats to break Christian Malcolm's record. Adele Nicoll reclaimed her British shot put title, Heather Warner took the 5000m race walk title whilst Bethan Davies finished in silver position, Melissa Courtney-Bryant took bronze in the women's 1500m and Patrick Swan equalled his 2022 performance to take bronze.
Jeremiah Azu celebrates breaking the Welsh 100m record
at the UK Athletics Championships.
July was the month of records, Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff Athletics) got the record-breaking month underway! At the European U23 Championships, Azu broke the Welsh 100m record for a second time this year with a time of 10.04 seconds, also setting a new Championship Record on his way to gold.
Joining in on the record-breaking fun was Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Poole AC), taking the 1500m record at the Silesia Diamond League, a record that has stood since 2003. Whilst also breaking the four-minute barrier with a time of 3:58.01 for the first time in her career.
There was plenty of Welsh success at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships, which saw Aled Davies (Cardiff Athletics), Hollie Arnold (Blackheath and Bromley) and Sabrina Fortune (Deeside AAC) retain their World Championship titles in their respective events. Whilst Michael Jenkins (Pembrokeshire Harriers) smashed his Championship debut, entering the competition with a personal best of 15.30m and eventually throwing three consecutive personal bests and one European record to secure the silver medal.
In August a team of 11 athletes and four staff members headed to the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago to represent Team Wales at the Commonwealth Youth Games. History was made on the first day of athletics competition in Trinidad as Tomi Roberts-Jones (DSW Para Academy) took gold in the men’s T38 100m to win Wales’ first para gold medal in Commonwealth Youth Games history. On the final day of competition in Trinidad, William Bishop (DSW Para Academy) claimed bronze in the men’s T38 long jump to become the first Welsh para-athlete to win a field medal at a Commonwealth Youth Games.
The 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games athletes and staff.
Following on from a British medal at the UK Athletics Indoor Championships at the start of the year, Gracie Griffiths (Pembrokeshire Harriers) continued her great season with a Welsh Record at the Welsh Athletics U20 International. Taking the women’s U20 5000m Race-Walk title with a new Welsh Record with a time of 23:36.03, a record that was previously set by her coach Heather Warner in 2012.
At the end of August five Welsh athletes travelled to Budapest to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World Athletics Championships.
Joe Brier (Swansea Harriers) was the first Welsh athlete in action, in the mixed 4x400m relay. The mixed quartet produced a perfect performance to knock more than three seconds off the previous British best, qualifying second fastest for the final in 3:11.19. The relay team went on to win silver in the final.
Natasha Cockram (Micky Morris Racing Team) took to the road in the women’s marathon, finishing in 30 position with a time of 2:35.34 on her Great Britain & Northern Ireland debut, and the only British athlete to represent GB in the marathon event. Jeremiah Azu (Cardiff Athletics) took to the track in the men’s 4x100m relay. Jeremiah ran the first leg of the relay which put Great Britain & Northern Ireland into a strong position, the team went on to finish outside of the medal positions in fourth place with a time of 37.80s.
Whilst Melissa Courtney-Bryant (Poole AC) qualified for the women’s 1500m final, making history as one of three British athletes to reach the 1500m the final, the first time this has been achieved.
Melissa Courtney-Bryant alongside her GB teammates, that made history
as the first female British trio to make the World 1500m final.
In the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships, Clara Evans (Pontypridd Roadents) impressed in the women’s marathon quartet, coming through in 22 place in a time of 1:10:53 to help secure team bronze in the penultimate event of the programme in Riga, Latvia.
Taking to the Cademuir hills in Peebles, Scotland, there was success for Welsh junior mountain runners at the British and Irish Junior Mountain Running Championships. There was success for both gold for Mackenzie McCourt (Maldwyn) winning the 3.8km/175m race in a time of 17:24 and Iwan Thomas (Carmarthen) also struck gold in a time of 14:33,
The 20th edition of the Cardiff Half Marathon took place on the first weekend of October, with a record-breaking number of registrations, with 27,000 in total. The Super Half also hosted the Welsh Half Marathon Championships, which saw Adam Bowden (Bridgend Athletics) and Beth Kidger (Brighton Phoenix) earn Welsh titles.
The first major fixture of the British Cross Challenge series once again returned to Cardiff as athletes of all ages from local clubs lined-up alongside international talents in the fixture which marked the third World Athletics Gold Label Cross Country event. The day also featured the second fixture of the John H Collins Gwent league which attracted thousands of runners from all around South Wales and the Southwest of England.
The start of the senior female race at the Cardiff Cross Challenge.
Following a great run at the Cardiff Cross Challenge in Liverpool, Moli Lyons (Cardiff Athletics) made her Great Britain and major Championships debut. In the U20’s race, the Cardiff athlete finished in a strong 31 place (5 of the British Athletes), helping the British team to win gold in the team standings.
During November two Welsh Athletes headed to Hyderabad, India to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the IAU 50km World Championships Anna Bracegirdle (Salford Harriers) took gold as part of the women’s team, finishing in a time of 3:20:37. Whilst, Andrew Davies (Stockport) was the fastest British male finishing in 2:57:14 to help lead the men’s team to the bronze medal.
As the year started to draw to an end, in early December there was another Welsh Record broken. This time Clara Evans (Pontypridd Roadents) broke the Welsh marathon record at the Valencia Marathon, a time of 2:25:04 saw Clara secure the qualifying standard for the Paris Olympic Games.
The records didn’t stop there, at the Cardiff Met Christmas Classic Indoor Grand Prix, Olympic medallist Laura Muir (Dundee Hawkhill) broke the All Comers 3000m indoor record! It was an honour to welcome Muir to Welsh soil and see her inspire many Welsh athletes whilst also securing the qualifying time for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow in 2024. Alongside Muir, Jenny Nesbitt (Pontypridd Roadents) claimed the women’s 3000m title with a time of 9:07.64, and Benjamin Reynolds (Cardiff Athletics) took the men’s Welsh title with a time of 8:04.50.
We look forward to another great year of athletics and running in Wales in 2024!
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