Heather Warren (centre) with Bethan Davies (l) and Gracie Griffiths. Pic: Owen Morgan

Welsh Trio Of Heather Warner, Bethan Davies And Gracie Griffiths Line-Up Incredible GB Clean Sweep


By Owen Morgan

The prospect of a Welsh race-walking one-two-three at next month’s British Athletics Championships took a significant step forward on Saturday.

Welsh Commonwealth Games athletes Heather Warner (formerly Lewis) and Bethan Davies have dominated British women’s race walking in recent years.

Youngster Gracie Griffiths reinforced her growing reputation as the young pretender who is starting to snap on the heels of the established Great Britain internationals on day one of the Welsh Athletics Championships in Cardiff.

Griffiths broke the Welsh Under-20 10K record as she clocked 51:15.97 finishing third behind her Pembrokeshire Harriers teammate and coach Warner, who claimed gold, and silver medallist Davies.

In sultry conditions, Warner set the early pace with Davies in close attendance.

But as the race wore on, Warner started to open a gap which she extended to eventually cross the line first in 46:54.14, with Davies finishing second in 48:41.86.

Gracie Griffiths on her way to breaking the Welsh Under-20 race walking 10K record. Pic: Owen Morgan

After the race, a delighted Warner said: “I really enjoyed that! Mostly because I was able to progress in the second half, which means it’s just a bit more enjoyable.


“I think time wise lately I’ve been struggling a little bit. But I am just enjoying at the moment and trying to progress in different areas like tackling the technical side of things.”

Commenting on the possibility of a Welsh clean sweep at the British Championships, Warner said: “Fingers crossed! We’re all doing well, so there is a really good chance. That would be brilliant, wouldn’t it?”

“I’m coaching Gracie as well, she’s just amazing – really inspiring. Fair play to her here today, it’s just incredible.

“She’s taken just under a minute off her PB, which is huge and another Welsh record. It’s all going very well for her, she’s having a great season. I’m really proud.

“She works so hard, and she deserves everything she’s achieving at the moment.”

Indeed, Griffiths finished second behind Davies at last year’s British Championships in a race which saw Warner disqualified.

Adele Nicoll won the discus as well as the shot put at the Welsh Athletics Championships. Pic: Owen Morgan

Davies and Griffiths weren’t Wales’ only Commonwealth Games athletes on the podium during Saturday’s first day of action at the Welsh Champs.

Adele Nicoll, who finished eighth in the shot put in Birmingham, even managed to top the podium twice.

The Birchfield Harrier comfortably won the women’s discus with a best throw of 48.67m.

Shortly afterwards she switched to the shot put circle where she was equally dominant winning with a best of 17.10m.

A superb achievement for a remarkable all-round sportswoman who is targeting a place in the Great Britain bobsleigh squad at the 2026 winter Olympics.

Other Birmingham 2022 throwing stars to claim Welsh titles on an increasingly hot afternoon were Amber Simpson, who took the women’s gold in the hammer with a winning distance of 63.98m, while Osian Jones was the top performing Welsh thrower in the men’s competition with a best of 68.76m.

On the track, Jenny Nesbitt, who competed in the 5,000m in Birmingham, stepped down the distances to take part in a competitive 1,500m field.

And the Pontypridd Roadents athlete celebrated in fine style as she crossed the line to take the win in 4:33.67 ahead of long-time leader Moli Lyons, of Cardiff Athletics in 4:34.40, and Laurie Marlow, of Reading AC, in 4:39.53.

Jenny Nesbitt wins the women’s 1500m. Pic: Owen Morgan

The men’s 1500m title was won by Colwyn Bay AC’s Bryn Woodall, who claimed gold in 3:52.20 ahead of Cardiff’s Lloyd Sheppard Brown in 3:53.09 and Aberystwyth’s Janos Vranek in 3:57.34.

Back in the field, javelin thrower Tom Hewson continued his return from an elbow injury to finish as top Welsh competitor in the field with a best throw of 58.74 ahead of Cardiff’s Richard Dangerfield, who registered 55.55.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Chapman claimed yet another Welsh title in the women’s long jump with a best of 6.18m.

Commonwealth Games T38 100m gold medal winner Olivia Breen was also competing and registered a longest jump of 4.92, ahead of next month’s World Para Athletics Championships, where she will compete in both the 100m and long jump.

The first day of the senior championships were rounded off with the men’s and women’s 100m finals.

The women’s title was won in 11.59 by Cardiff Athletics’ Hannah Longden ahead of teenage star Nell Desir, of Cardiff Archers, who clocked 11.94.

An extremely tight men’s final saw Ukranian guest sprinter Stanislav Kovalenko break the tape first in 10.50 just ahead of Cardiff’s Josh Brown, who took the Welsh title in 10.53, ahead of club-mate Sam Gordon, who clocked 10.66.

Tom Hewson on his way to the Welsh men’s javelin title. Pic: Owen Morgan

Saturday also saw some excellent performances in the Welsh Under-15 championships, which ran alongside the senior event.

Rising middle distance star Libby Hale, of Swansea Harriers, won an excellent girls 1500m final in a new Welsh Under 15 record of 4:26.75 which also takes the UK lead in the age group and places Hale in the all-time UK top 10.

Olivia Scrimshaw, of Deeside AAC, extended her Welsh triple jump record from last season to 11.77m.

Full results from both the senior and under-15 championships are available on the Welsh Athletics website, along with a timetable for Sunday’s events.


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