By Owen Morgan
Welsh Athletics has named a strong squad for the prestigious annual Loughborough international on May 23.
World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene is the standout name in a squad littered with Great Britain senior and junior internationals as well as a number of emerging debutants.
As well as being selected for individual 400m hurdles, Greene is named in one of four mouth watering sprint relay squads, which will excite Welsh athletics fans ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games.
In the men’s 4x400m, Greene is joined by GB senior internationals Joe Brier and Owen Smith, along with rising talents like Steffan Dylan Jones.
Launch – The New Welsh Athletics International Kit!
It is with great delight that we bring to you our new racing kit with our new kit sponsor @JomaSportUK. The new Welsh kit comes just in time for the weekend involving the 2021 Loughborough International.https://t.co/esqMNH4xN4 pic.twitter.com/IpH8XrxIJ8
— @welshathletics (@WelshAthletics) May 13, 2021
The men’s 4x100m team is also stacked with GB internationals including Jeremiah Azu, Sam Gordon and Owain Lloyd Hughes.
The women’s 4x100m team features new GB Futures relay recruit Caitlyn Mapps along with experienced Commonwealth Games competitors Hannah Brier and Mica Moore.
Meanwhile, the women’s 4x400m squad features a remarkable comeback by Caryl Granville, who suffered a potentially career-threatening deep vein thrombosis in her leg last July. The Swansea Harrier also runs in 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles individual events.
Wherever you look in the 50-strong Welsh team there is exciting emerging and established talent, all the way from the sprinters to rising north Wales distance star Osian Perrin in the men’s 3,000m and Parc Bryn Bach’s Lauren Cooper in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.
The field events are equally strong. The javelin selection features British Championship bronze medallists Tom Hewson and Bethany Moule.
There’s another British Championship bronze medallist in the women’s shot put selection in the shape of Adele Nicoll, who placed third at last year’s indoor championships.
Commonwealth Games competitor Rebecca Chapman, who also has a British Championship bronze in her medal collection competes in the long jump, while former GB junior captain James Tomlinson, of Pembrokeshire Harriers, will hope for good points in the discus.
There will also be Welsh senior debuts for the likes of James Heneghan who ran a big 1500m personal best of 3:43.10 last week and fellow Cardiff athlete Lizzie Harris, who is selected in the 800m.
National Coach Chris Jones said: “Welsh Athletics are delighted and celebrate athletes returning to a high level of competition representing Wales at this year’s LIA after such unprecedented difficult times.
“I would like to congratulate every athlete and coach on their success at been selected for this year’s event and wish everyone success at this year’s competition.
“The challenges we have all faced only make the opportunity of coming together as a Welsh team very special as we build towards next year’s Commonwealth Games and future age group championships.
“We all owe a huge thank you to families and friends that have supported all of us through this very difficult journey.
“Thank you for contributing this is a huge step forward for the sport of athletics in Wales.”
The Welsh team will also be sporting a new kit when they take on teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain Juniors, British Universities, Loughborough University and the National Athletic League at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium.
The new kit deal with suppliers Joma Sport is the biggest in history of the sport in Wales.
Welsh Athletics CEO James Williams said: “After an incredibly challenging 12 months, It’s superb to see an International team competing once again. The JOMA partnership is the largest kit deal in Welsh Athletics history, and I would like to thank them for their support during the last year.
“It was important to find a supplier who shared our ambition for supporting the sport in Wales, and Joma has certainly done this.
“The new kit design looks superb, and I hope that athletes will wear the Welsh vest with pride. I look forward to seeing athletes from across Wales battle it out in the years ahead to earn the right to wear the red vest of Wales.”
The full Welsh team for the Loughborough International is:
Jeremiah Azu 100m; Dan Beadsley 200m; Joe Brier 400m; David Locke 800m; James Heneghan 1500m, Osian Perrin 3000m; Curtis Mathews 110m H; Dai Green 400m H; Curtis Mathews LJ; Jonathan Bailey HJ; Tom Walley PV; Dan Cork SP; James Tomlinson Discus; Jac Palmer Hammer; Tom Hewson Javelin; Jeremiah Azu, Dan Beadsley, Sam Gordon, Josh Brown, Kristian Jones, Eli Onyewu, Owain Lloyd Hughes 4x100m; Joe Brier, Dai Greene, Owen Smith, Steffan Dylan Jones, Reece Middleton, Liam McGivern 4x100m.
Women: Hannah Brier 100m; Amy Odunayia 200m; Rhiannon Linington-Payne 400m; Lizzie Harris 800m; Jade Williams 1500m; Beth Kidger 3000m; Lauren Cooper 3000m S/C; Caryl Granville 100mH/400m H; Rebecca Chapman LJ; Lauren Evans HJ; Carys Jones PV; Adelle Nicoll SP; Ffion Palmer Hammer; Bethany Moule Javelin: Hannah Brier, Caitlyn Mapps, Mica Moore, Shannon Malone, Hannah Williams, Amy Odunyayia 4x100m; Rhiannon Linington-Payne, Lauren Williams, Sian Harry, Caryl Granville, Bronwen Reed.