Welcome to Wales' Premier Athletic Club
together we are one

Champagne year for Cardiff

Wednesday 24 November 2010

2010 has certainly been an outstanding year for Cardiff AAC with team and individual highlights coming thick and fast. The big question was whether the club’s teams could match their great results of the year before. The Young Athletes’ League team could expect to find it tougher in the higher division whereas the British League team would do well to hold its place in the National Division 1, being newly promoted. On the other hand, the UK Women’s League team wanted to get back into Division 1 and the National Junior League team also wanted to regain its place in the league proper.

The year could not have got off to a better start as popular former international star Jamie Baulch was finally awarded a World Championship Gold Medal as part of Great Britain’s 4x400m relay team at the 1997 championships in Athens. The GB team had originally been placed second but was upgraded to first when the USA team was disqualified after one of their runners was convicted of a doping offence.

Joe Thomas got his season off to a good start by being chosen for a GB indoor international match but subsequently picked up an illness and struggled until late in the year.

At the Welsh Senior Indoor championships, Cardiff athletes took 13 medals including golds for Liam Duff, Megan Tatnell, Alex Coomber and Gareth Hopkins.

February is usually a fairly quiet month but Alex Hains won the Welsh Cross Country championships in Swansea and Tanni Grey Thompson was appointed to the House of Lords as Baroness.

By March, the Gwent League was well under way and Mike Ward became the overall winner of the series in the under 15 age group, having won three of the races. Veteran Dic Evans travelled to Canada for the World Masters’ Championships and won gold in the half marathon and silver in the cross country.

April saw Cardiff teams win three titles at the Welsh road relay championships at Llandow; under 13 boys (Ciaran Lewis, Rhys Gooch, Tom Edmunds and John Cove), under 15 boys (Mike Ward, Elliot Slade and Jack Gooch) and under 17 ladies (Harriet Morris, Bethan Daw and Zoe Thomas).

Oh, and by the way, former club captain and current UK Women’s League team manager Debbie Rees took time out to give birth to baby son Finlay.

May heralded the start of the track season and the YAL team got off to a great start, with second place in the first match, at Cheltenham and first place in the second round at Rugby. The NJL team won its opener at Leamington Spa, with captain Tom Knight winning both the 100m and 200m.

As a possible sign of things to come, Christian Malcolm clocked a windy 10.15 for the 100m in winning the UK Inter Counties title at Bedford.

June saw both the BAL and UKWAL teams start their campaigns with home matches in Cardiff. The women won their match and the men came second. These were better starts than might have been expected.

The Welsh Championships held in Cardiff in June doubled as the trials for the Welsh Commonwealth Games team. Cardiff athletes secured 6 of the 8 places in the final of the men’s 100m and took all three medals through Christian Malcolm, Liam Duff and Lloyd Refell. There was also a Cardiff clean sweep in the men’s 800m with Gareth Warburton, Joe Thomas and Gareth Wiltshire taking gold silver and bronze respectively. Rhys Williams won the 400m hurdles with a fine 49.89 and things were looking up for the European Championships and Commonwealth Games to come.

Away from the track, Leila James was crowned Miss Cardiff and qualified for the Miss Great Britain final later in the year.

In early July, talented junior Jamaul Whyte was chosen as the captain of the Welsh Schools boys’ team to contest the schools’ international in Glasgow and celebrated by winning both 100m and 200m titles at the Welsh under 17 championships in Carmarthen.

The BAL and UKWAL teams repeated their first round places in their second round matches and suddenly it seemed that some dreams might be possible after all. The YAL team exceeded expectations by qualifying for the area final in Birmingham, where they came a creditable 6th against some of the best clubs in the country.

On the individual front, high jumper Ffion Bodilly was the only Welsh winner at the schools international in Glasgow and higher competition athlete David Guest just missed out on a decathlon medal at the World Junior championships in Canada despite scoring a personal best points total in fourth place.

The UKWAL team won its third and final match in August and was promoted in fine style to the first division of the UK Women’s League. Captain Emma Peters led by example, competing in three events and winning the 400m B race. Could the men emulate the women?

Yes they could and clinched promotion to the Premiership of the British League in the final match at Liverpool. Cardiff has a fine record in the British League and, since it was founded in 1969, is one of only three clubs that have been present throughout, never having been relegated out of the league.

The Welsh under 15 League team had dominated the series and, at the Welsh Junior League final in Brecon, helped the club to second place behind Carmarthen.

The National Junior League team regained its place in the League proper and, in the final match, Gareth Winter was the man of the match for his winning discus throw of 51.50m.

Every club team had performed above expectations.

Meanwhile, a large group of Cardiff members travelled to the European Championships in Barcelona and were able to cheer on Christian Malcolm and Rhys Williams to their silver medals.

Ffion Bodilly, who had been the only Welsh winner at the schools international, also won the national title in Bedford and, in very difficult conditions, jumped a personal best of 1.73m which put her in second place on the Great Britain rankings.

The Welsh Commonwealth Games team was announced later in the month and Cardiff was represented by six athletes; Christian Malcolm, Rhys Williams, Gareth Warburton, Joe Thomas, James Thie and Bryone Raine. Former club 400m international Mike Delaney was the team manager.

In September, Mike Johnson continued a successful series of races by winning both the Welsh 5k and 10k road championships.

The club was able to celebrate a highly successful season at its annual presentation evening where, amongst others, Rhys Williams was present to assist with the presentations of numerous certificates and awards to the club’s many talented athletes.

The annual Welsh Athletics Awards Dinner was also held in September and no less than eight awards came Cardiff’s way. For the success of its teams, Cardiff was awarded the Welsh “Club of the Year”; James Williams was awarded the Club Volunteer of the year; Alan Garrison the Newcomer to Officiating of the year; and Ffion Bodilly received two awards – Welsh Athletics’ Junior Female Athlete of the year and Welsh Schools’ Field Athlete of the year. In addition, Steve Barry, Sue Morley-Brown and Venissa Head were inducted into the Welsh Athletics’ Hall of Fame.

The track and field season ended in October with the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Cardiff’s athletes all acquitted themselves well, with Rhys Williams and Christian Malcolm winning bronze medals in the 400m hurdles and 200m respectively. Gareth Warburton, Joe Thomas and James Thie all reached track finals with Gareth tantalisingly close to a medal in the 800m where he finished fourth.

More honours came to Cardiff at the Annual General Meeting of Welsh Athletics where Clive Williams received the Award of Honour and Helen James, Tom Meyer, Christian Malcolm and Matt Elias all received Meritorious Awards for their contributions to Welsh Athletics.

And finally, John Lister was presented with an MBE for services to athletics at Buckingham Palace by the Prince of Wales.

These are just some of the highlights of what, all in all, it has been a fantastic year for the club.

Well done to everyone and good luck for next year.