By Owen Morgan
Olympic year will well and truly get underway with a top quality Welsh Senior Indoor Athletics Championships in Cardiff on Saturday.
Sixteen reigning Welsh champions, a host of Commonwealth Games internationals and a sprinkling of Olympians and world championships competitors will be among more than 350 athletes going head-to-head at the National Indoor Athletics Centre.
One man harbouring Olympic dreams is sprinter Sam Gordon, who will face huge competition in the men’s 60m where Wales is producing some exceptionally exciting young talent.
The Welsh 100m champion, who ran 6.70 to win the 60m at last weekend’s Non Thomas Open, said: “It’s the best place to show off the growing talent Wales is producing.”
Gordon will be up against the likes of Europe’s fastest teenager Jeremiah Azu, who has his own Olympic ambitions, last year’s Welsh indoor 60m champion Arron Owen and Neath’s rising young sprinter Owain Lloyd Hughes, who will also be competing in the 200m.
There will be equally exciting match ups in the women’s 60 metres where the field includes both a summer and winter Olympian.
Cardiff-based Maltese international Charlotte Wingfield competed at 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, while Wales Commonwealth Games sprinter Mica Moore represented Great Britain in the bobsleigh at the 2018 winter Olympics in South Korea.
Hoping to finish ahead of the two Olympians is reigning Welsh 60m champion Shannon Malone.
The Deeside AAC athlete said: “I’m looking forward to be opening up my first race of the 2020 season and hopefully trying to retain my title.”
In the women’s 200m Great Britain U23 4x100m teammates Melissa Roberts and Hannah Brier will be going head-to-head for the title along with a host of other rising Welsh talent.
Roberts is the returning champion and holds the championship best performance, while Brier represented Wales at the 2014 Commonwealths.
Roberts who claimed a PB at last year’s Welsh championships, said: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend, I absolutely love competing in the Welsh Championships.
“I’ve had a different approach going into this year so I’m really excited to see what I produce. I’m aiming to get as close or even beat my championship best from last year.”
Saturday’s entertainment and excitement won’t be confined to the track – there are a number of equally exciting clashes in the field events.
The women’s pole vault is looking too close to call with three Welsh athletes jumping just over 3.70m.
Carys Jones will be going in as the one to beat with 3.73m but Cardiff teammates Isabel Thomas (3.70m) and Megan Griffiths (3.70m) will push her hard for the title.
Another incredibly tight competition will come in men’s long jump, with 2019 champion Ceirion Hopkins and Commonwealth Games heptathlete Curtis Matthews both having a personal best of 7.21m.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games long jumper and former British outdoor championships medallist Rebecca Chapman returns to the Cardiff sand with her sights set on beating fellow Welsh jumper Sarah Abrams, of Blackheath and Bromley, who finished fifth at last season’s British Championships.
The action in Cardiff starts at 11am. Entry is £4 for adults with no charge for under-16s.
If you can’t make it to NIAC, you can follow all the events on the Vinco livestream.
For more information go to the Welsh Athletics website.