By Owen Morgan
Welsh senior track and field athlete of the year Osian Jones is hoping to build on this year’s record-breaking performances and qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The hammer-thrower was recognised for his outstanding season at this year’s Welsh Athletics Annual Awards held at the Vale Resort near Cardiff.
The Liverpool Harrier produced a spectacular end to this year’s outdoor season which saw him register a string of Welsh record-breaking performances to stretch his personal best from 71.62m last year to 73.89m by the end of the summer.
The North Walian finished off his season by winning a bronze medal at the British Championships and World Championships Trials in Birmingham.
Now, he is looking to take that form into next season with his sights firmly set on Tokyo.
“I feel there was still more there in the tank this season and I’m really confident I have what it takes to get to Tokyo, I just need to make sure I put the work in and give myself a chance to get into the team.,” says Jones.
Looking back on the past year, he adds: “It was a tale of two halves, really, for me. It took a while for it to click and when things came together in the end I was able to build confidence.
“I think I should have thrown a bit further still, but by the time I started getting into my groove the season was done, really.
“But it was a fantastic way to finish the season and I learnt a lot from the season and what not to do as well. I won’t have time to mess about like that next year.”
Commenting on picking up the Welsh Athletics senior track and field athlete of the year title, Jones says: “It means a massive amount to get this award. It’s a huge honour.
“I’m a very patriotic Welshman and I’ve always wanted to compete at the Commonwealth Games, but this is a really proud moment for me and my family who’ve come down for this as well, so it’s a really nice moment.”
The senior women’s track and field athlete of the year title was won for the second year running by Melissa Courtney, who was unable to attend because she is currently preparing for her wedding.
Courtney’s season started with a bang, twice breaking her own Welsh indoor 3,000m record – the second time at the European Indoor Championships final in March where she won bronze behind gold medallist Laura Muir.
She gained revenge on Muir by beating the Scot at the Vitality Westminster Mile on the streets of London in May before smashing her own Welsh 5,000m record at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting just a few days later.
Unfortunately, Courtney missed out on qualifying for the World Championships in Doha but did help Europe win The Match – the inaugural meeting against the USA dubbed the Ryder Cup of Athletics.
The women’s senior endurance athlete of the year award went to Charlotte Arter, who enjoyed a hugely successful cross country season, which saw her win the European Cross Country trials in Liverpool.
At the championships in Tilburg, last December, Arter was the first British athlete home as the British women’s team claimed a silver medal.
The Cardiff AC athlete continued her excellent form into this year as she ran the fastest ever parkrun time by a woman, clocking 15:50 in her home city in January. The following month she ran a new PB of 69.41 at the Barcelona Half Marathon.
As recently as last week, Arter won the opening round of the British Cross Challenge in Cardiff.
Looking back on the year, Arter said: “The year’s gone really quickly. I can’t believe cross country has come around again.
” At the back end of last year, the cross country went really well, so I’m hoping I can build on that this year, go to Liverpool in the best shape possible and try and qualify for the Europeans.
“Then I just want to try and get as close to the medals as I can at the Europeans and build on my success from last year.”
The men’s senior endurance athlete of the year went to Dan Nash, whose season’s highlights included running a huge PB at the London Marathon and winning a bronze medal in a British record time at the IAU 50KMWorld Championships in Romania.
Commenting on his award, the Cardiff AC athlete said: “It’s been an amazing year. I surprised myself twice. I managed to peak at the right time for both of them.”
Nash said he almost didn’t make it to the world championships in Romania.
“It’s funny, I nearly pulled out of the race about three times before I started. Three weeks before I was thinking ‘I’m really struggling here’. I’m not running very well. I don’t know if I can even run 50k.
“Then, in the last proper week of training it all seemed to come together. I wasn’t hunting a medal at all, it just happened on the day. With a mile to go I realised the guy up the road was in third place and I thought, well, actually I can do this, I can get him.”
The junior track and field athlete of the year awards went to James Tomlinson and Sarah Omoregie, who were both unable to attend on the night.
Tomlinson has represented Great Britain across Europe this season and was joint captain of the team which travelled to Sweden for the European Under-20 Championships.
Just days before finishing seventh at his first senior British Championships, the Pembrokeshire Harrier set a new Welsh Under-20 discus record of 61.64m.
Shot-putter Omoregie, also represented GB at the European Under-20 Championships in Sweden where she gained a top 10 finish. At the Halle Throws international in Germany, she recorded a new personal best of 15.45m to finish fourth.
Domestically, the Cardiff athlete’s highlights included winning the English Athletics Under-20/23 championships, finishing fourth at the British Indoor Championships and third at the Welsh Athletics Senior Championships.
The women’s junior endurance athlete of the year award was won by Cari Hughes, who endured an injury hampered 2019, but a highly successful end to 2018 where she excelled at cross country.
The Swansea Harrier finished third at the Cardiff Cross Challenge before winning the Liverpool event which doubled as the European Cross Country Championship trials.
In Tilburg, Hughes finished 13th overall and helped the Great Britain women’s under-20 team to the gold medal.
Hughes says she is hoping to return to that kind of form having recently resumed training.
“I’ve been injured for about four months now, but I’m getting back into it. This is my third week back in training and it’s going ok.
“Obviously, it’s going to take time to get back to where I want to be but the first few weeks have been good and I’m getting on top of things.
“I think I’m going to have to take things week by week and see how things go. I want to get back to fitness by Liverpool and give that a go to try and make the European team. I think that is my main aim.
“Hopefully, if everything goes smoothly now I should be ok to race but not 100 per cent fit. I’m just going to have to take that and know that when I race.”
Hughes is also hoping to improve her track form in a bid to gain a place in Wales’ 2022 Commonwealth Games team.
— Welsh Athletics (@WelshAthletics) October 19, 2019
“I think this year on the track I need to make massive steps because I’ve had quite a few setbacks in the track season over the past few years, so this year I really need to progress and get my times down and, hopefully, get ready for Birmingham.
“It’s one of my main aims, I would really love to be there. It’s a home Commonwealth Games and you don’t get those kind of opportunities very often so I really want to grab that with both hands and get my times down to give myself the chance to get on that team.”
Hughes was delighted to pick up the award: “It’s really amazing to get this award. The amount of support I get from Welsh Athletics is amazing. They are always there for me. I couldn’t do it without them.”
“All the injuries and setbacks I’ve had, I wouldn’t be here now, I wouldn’t be back and training, if it wasn’t for all of them.
The men’s junior endurance athlete of the year award went to Jake Heyward, who, like Hughes, enjoyed an excellent cross country season, but then suffered a disjoined track campaign due to injury.
The Cardiff AC athlete won his home city leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge and the European trials in Liverpool before going on to finish fourth individually in Tilburg to help the Great Britain under-20 team win the silver medal.
Commenting on his award, Heyward said: “It’s really special. There are a lot of really, really talented athletes in Wales, there’s a lot of athletes who could have won this award, so it means a lot to me.”
A new award was introduced at the ceremony in the shape of the athletes’ athlete of the year award which was won by race walker Heather Lewis
The Pembrokeshire Harrier set a new 5,000m PB to win the Welsh outdoor championships and a new 20K PB on the road to win the British Athletics Grand Prix and World Championship trials in Leeds.
On receiving the award, voted for by her fellow athletes, Lewis said: “This is such a surprise. I didn’t expect to have this. It’s a real honour to have it voted by athletes, because there are so many athletes this season who have done amazingly.”
Other award winners on the night included:
Overall club of the year: Cardiff Athletics
Track and field club of the year: Cardiff Athletics
Off track club of the year: Swansea Harriers
Junior track and field club of the year: Swansea Harriers
Junior off track club of the year: Carmarthen Harriers
Inclusivity club of the year: Parc Bryn Bach Running Club
Development club of the year: Ogmore Phoenix
Track and field performance coach of the year: Paul Jensen
Endurance performance coach of the year: Andy Walling
Track and field participation coach of the year: Alyson Hourihan, Cardiff Athletics
Endurance participation coach of the year: Emma Loyns, Ogmore Phoenix
International performance coach of the year: Kevin Evans.
Volunteer of the year: Gareth Williams, Parc Bryn Bach Running Club
Services to club development: Brett Bonell, Ogmore Phoenix
Newcomer to officiating: Neil Gregory, Cardiff Athletics
Young official of the year (joint winners): Ella Hunter, Wrexham AC/ Sam Williams
Off track official of the year: Jeff Kirby, Cardiff Athletics
Track and field official of the year: Peter Gregson, Cardiff Athletics
Run Wales group of the year: Cowbridge Moovers
Run Wales group leader of the year: David Sinclair, Moti – Cardiff
Run Wales inspiration of the year: Geraldine Tucker, Cardiff Moovers.