By Rob Cole
For the second year in a row it was the parents of the main prize winner who stole the show as Howell Thomas and Hilary Thomas stepped in for their son Geraint to carry off the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year award.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were at the Celtic Manor Resort at the Wales Sport Awards on Tuesday night to stand-in for their son.
In 2017, it was the parents of the then injured Jonathan Davies who came forward to receive the trophy for their famous offspring. They brought the house down, as did the Thomases.
Both sets of proud parents did a great job and Hilary Thomas revealed she can’t bring herself to watch when Geraint is tackling the biggest climbs on the Tour de France.
“I don’t watch. I go in the kitchen, go shopping or go for a walk. I can’t watch until I know the result and know he is safe,” she said.
There were 26 climbs on the 2018 Tour and this time her son managed to negotiate them all pretty safely. He even became the first British rider to conquer the most feared of them all, Alpe d’Huez.
First included in the Tour in 1952, Alpe d’Huez is best known for its 21 switchbacks over a distance of 13.2 kilometres and with an average gradient of 8.1%.
It tops out at 10,930 feet, attracts hundreds of thousands of fans and took Thomas 41 min, 15 sec to reach the top.
While his father was screaming at the TV, Mum was nowhere to be seen. “Seeing those climbs and descents is terrible. I switch off my phone and get out of there,” she added.
It was the second time Thomas had taken the top award in Welsh sport, adding to his triumph in 2014 after his Commonwealth Games road race success in Glasgow, and he will be one of the leading candidates for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on network TV on Sunday.
“Don’t forget to vote for him,” were his Dad’s final words on stage as another night of celebration of all that is good in Welsh sport came to an end.
Backed by Sport Wales, the event has changed in emphasis from simply being a celebration of the best of the best. These days it reflects the full range of Welsh sport, with a heavy emphasis on participation, volunteering and simply getting active.
Sport Wales Award Winners
Getting Wales Active: Get Out, Get Active Programme
Community Coach of the Year: Aled Jones-Davies (Taf Running & Orienteering Club)
Coach of the Year: Jayne Ludlow (Welsh Women’s Football)
Inspiring Young Person: Fran Smith (Multi-Sport)
Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year: Sam Thomas (Horse Racing)
Carwyn James Young Sportswoman of the Year: Elynor Backstedt (Cycling)
Embed from Getty Images
Volunteer of the Year: Gareth Lanagan (Dolgellau Cricket Club)
BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero: Asa Waite (Newport Aces Basketball Club)
Organisation of the Year: The Outdoor Partnership
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson
BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2018: Geraint Thomas (Cycling)