24 January 2008
Pontypridd athletics star Joe Thomas will be chasing gold this weekend at the Welsh Open Senior Indoor Championships (Saturday 26 January 2008).
The men’s 800m rising star - who celebrates his 20th birthday just three days after the indoor meet - will however face tough opposition from England’s Paul Bradshaw and Cardiff’s Joseph Maynard.
“It’s a tough competition which I’ll be using as preparation for the National Championships in a couple of weeks. I’ll also use the Inter-City Cup the following week as a stepping stone for Sheffield. I am hopeful of a good finish.”
Thomas runs for Cardiff AAC and has been recruited onto the Welsh Athletics Talent Development Academy which is designed to nurture and support young athletes:
“The medical back-up has been really helpful. Last year, I had an ankle injury and needed a scan. Obviously, if things like that crop up now, I get support which helps me out,” adds Thomas.
Fellow Academy athlete and 400m hurdler Caryl Cranville from Llanelli will also be in action as will Deeside AC’s Christina Hughes who is entered in the pole vault.
Penarth’s Brett Morse has recently graduated from the Academy onto National Lottery funding. The 18-year-old is aiming to confirm his credentials in the shot putt but his appearance on Saturday hinges on a pectoral injury.
If all goes to plan, the men’s triple jump will be dominated by UWIC student Gary White. Underlining his potential for the future, he was victorious at the European Under 23 Championships in Debrecen last summer.
The Cardiff AAC man – who is originally from Rugby – delivered a stunning performance to take gold by improving his lifetime best by an outstanding 24 centimetres and producing a jump of 16.33m:
“The Welsh Indoors is an important competition because I don’t get many chances to compete indoors. I’m competing in Slovakia a couple of days beforehand, and I’m hoping to record two good performances. I need to jump well as it’s the National Championships two weeks afterwards.”
White has also been working with Benke Blomkvist – the Swedish coach who has been enlisted to Welsh Athletics:
“Benke is a first-class coach and has worked with some of the best athletes in the world. It is really good to see coaches of his calibre working in Wales. It will be tough to make the Olympics or World Indoors this year but I’m going all out to get near to those standards. I’m stronger, faster and, technically, I have made improvements too,” adds White.
His Debrecen team-mate, Birchfield Harrier Louise Butterworth, reached the finals of the pole vault at the European Under 23s and will be the one to beat in the women’s event.
The men’s pole vault, meanwhile, has attracted 18 entries and the start-sheet features Welshman Paul Walker and England’s Christian North.
Having recently joined Malcolm Arnold’s training stable, Debo Ademuyewo of Cardiff will be bidding to impress his new coach.
The Welsh one-lap specialist, who runs for Sale, was taken under the wing of the coaching guru who has previously assisted Colin Jackson and Jason Gardener to world-class success. And Arnold will be watching from the stands but 24-year-old Ademuyewo, who boasts a law degree, is not feeling any added pressure:
“Of course, you want to do well and make sure you don’t mess up. But it is good pressure. He’s always got his eye on you – even when you don’t think he’s watching you, he is picking up the smallest things that do make a difference. There’s no hiding place with him!”
David Guest has recently been taken onto National Lottery funding and he may soon have to get used to the limelight. The youngster is certainly tipped as an icon of the future but he will have to contend with athletes of more experience on Saturday, including Robert Mitchell who competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Cardiff’s Chris Howe is setting his sights on senior glory, after cruising to a record-breaking double at last week’s Welsh Indoor Junior Championships. The talent won gold in both the under-20 60m and 200m and will be aiming to make his mark at the next level.
Aiming to continue his reign in the 1500m is James Williams who will be striving for his fifth consecutive title. The Cardiff AAC captain is the brother of hurdler Rhys Williams who is currently in training for the Beijing Olympics.
While elder statesman Williams stamps his authority on the middle distance, a number of high-flying youngsters will be hoping to impress athletics bosses. Cardiff sprinters Mica Moore and Zara George will be joined in the 60m line-up by Cwmbran’s Claire Williams.