Team Wales success at the Commonwealth Youth Games
The Trinbago 2023 Games concluded on Friday 11th August with a thriving carnival-themed closing ceremony.
Team Wales , who finished 9th on the medal table from the 71 Nations across the Commonwealth, took on four of the seven sports included in the sports programme across the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Welsh contingent in Trinidad included swimmers, cyclists and athletes, whilst over in Tobago Women’s Rugby Sevens were flying the flag for Wales. Other sports in the Games were FAST 5 Netball, Triathlon and Volleyball.
Team Wales made their debut at the spectacular Opening Ceremony on August 4th at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Trinidad, with Storm Evans (Discus) and William Bishop (T38 100m and Long Jump) leading the team as flagbearers.
The Youth Games, which began in 2000 saw the 7th edition hosted in the Caribbean for the first time, but the historical importance of these games was the inclusion of para sport for the first time.
Team Wales won a total of 15 medals across three sports (Swimming, Cycling and Athletics), two more than the last games in Bahamas, 2017. Swimming won an impressive 10 medals, with cycling securing 3 and athletics 2 (3 Gold, 6 Silver and 6 Bronze).
Historically, the Commonwealth Youth Games has been an invaluable platform for young athletes to gain multi games experience on the world stage – and these games gave 1000 athletes the opportunity to showcase their talent with a global audience.
Team Wales Chef de Mission Matt Cosgrove said;
‘It has been an honour to lead Team Wales at the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games. The athletes not only performed well in their respective events but also conducted themselves professionally off the field of play. There were some excellent performances with the swimmers in particular involved in some thrilling racing and some exciting new talent emerging. The cyclists produced medal winning performances on both the track and road and the inclusion of para-athletes for the first time saw Welsh para-athletes win two medals in the athletics events. Our young rugby sevens team experienced some tough conditions, but the players equipped themselves well and finished the competition strongly. It was a pleasure to have them as part of the team.
More important than the results though was the invaluable experience that these young athletes have gained from competing at the Games. For some, it was their first high level international competition and factors such as the long-haul travel, being away from home for the first time, the hot climate and the intensity of the athletes’ village would have been new experiences for them. They responded really well to these challenges and will have learned a lot from them. The most pleasing aspect was their behaviour and the respect that they showed to both their competitors and their own teammates. They were great ambassadors for Team Wales.
I look forward to following the careers of these young athletes and hopefully seeming some of them represent Wales on the senior team at the Commonwealth Games in years to come.’
Young fourteen-year-old Theodora Taylor won Wales’ first medal of the Games in the 200m Breaststroke in a time of 2.32.91, securing a bronze medal. Theodora, won a total of six medals in the pool, with standout performances throughout the Games, with team mate Tyler Melbourne-Smith, who was equally impressive, and won Wales’ first Gold medal in the 1500m Freestyle in a time of 15.30.80. Tyler topped the podium twice at the National Aquatics Centre in Couva, and was also the flagbearer at the party-themed Closing Ceremony.
Swimming Team Leader Graeme Antwhistle said ‘This Commonwealth Youth Games has been a huge success for our athletes and staff. In the face of significant challenges in Trinidad, our team of young athletes showed resilience to deliver outstanding performances. We would like to thank Trinidad and Tobago for being outstanding hosts, and we leave here with memories that will last a lifetime.’
Across the road at the Velodrome, there was also success for the team of four cyclists. Lowri Richards became the first Welsh athlete to compete at the Games in the Women’s Time Trial on the first day of competition. Sam Fisher added two silvers to the bronze won by Max Bufton who secured Wales’ first cycling medal of the Games in the 15kn Time Trial earlier in the week.
Rob Partridge, Cycling Team Leader said;
‘It’s been a great experience for the team here in Trinidad. Our aim was to come here and perform well – which they all have done. We’re heading home with 3 medals, which is brilliant, but our athletes are also coming home with some great experiences which they can take forward in their future development.
Huge thanks for Team Wales HQ who have helped the smooth running of our travel and competition.’
Athletics, held at the Hensley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, had 11 athletes amongst the team, three of which were para-athletes, marking the introduction of para athletes inclusively into the Games.
The standout golden moment was on Day 3 with Tomi Roberts-Jones winning the T38 100m in 13.2 seconds, and teammate Will Bishop, who was a late replacement for injured Ashton Fish, finishing 5th with a new personal best of 14.46 seconds.
Will, who also competed in his main event, the T38 Long Jump, won Wales’ second athletics medal. Mia Lloyd flew the flag for the female para-athletes, finishing 4th in the Women’s discus. Joe Berry and Joe Rees Gara also made the finals in the 200m and 1500m respectively.
Rhys Williams, Athletics Team Leader, who also competed at the first Youth Games in 2000, said;
‘It was a great experience to be Team Lead at the recent Commonwealth Youth Games. We prioritised this event for our athletes as a governing body, due to it being a crucial step in the athletes development. It was great to see first hand, the learnings our athletes gained and this experience, it will certainly help them compete at future championships.
From a staffing point of view, we also learnt a great deal and are relishing being part of another Commonwealth Youth Games.’
Over in Tobago at the Shaw Park Recreational Field, the Women’s Rugby Sevens team faced challenging conditions throughout the tournament, but demonstrated resilience, commitment, and pride to finish the tournament with two outstanding wins against hosts Trinidad and Tobago, winning 66-0 and 50-0 respectively.
Jonathan Hooper, Team Leader for the Sevens said;
We are obviously extremely disappointed to have missed qualification for the medal play offs but we are extremely proud of some of the performances that this young team produced in this highly competitive tournament. We lost three close games to Canada, Kenya & Fiji which we believed that we could have won. We weren’t accurate enough when it mattered, and some uncharacteristic unforced errors cost us much needed victories. The players have all learned valuable lessons early in their rugby journey from these priceless experiences of competing in a world-class competition.
An outstanding team performance against unbeaten Gold Medal winners Australia really showed what this exciting young group is capable of. With three sixteen-year-olds in our starting line up we were the only team to keep within twenty points of the champions. Seren Lockwood’s 70m solo try set us up for a strong first half. Catrin Stewarts ball winning ability kept us in the game whilst Rhiannon Griffins offloads kept the Australians on the back foot. Our strong defence held the champions to just one second half try whilst their ferocious scramble defence denied Hannah Lane a long distance try in the closing minute.
The players should be proud of their professional display on day 3, finishing the tournament scoring eighteen tries in two clinical performances against the hosts to claim 5th place. The energetic Catrin Stewart led the team exceptionally well all week, joint top try scorers with 6 tries each were halfbacks Seren Lockwood & Hanna Marshall. Seren Lockwood ending the tournament with 100% tackle success (20 from 20).
With pride at the forefront of every member of the team, both athletes and staff, the medals, personal bests and new records were an added bonus to an exceptional Games for Wales on and off the field of play.
Rebecca Edwards-Symmons, Commonwealth Games Wales CEO said ‘It’s been an outstanding Games for Wales and I’m really pleased I was able to be there in person to support the team, and to experience the Youth Games for the first time. It’s been fantastic to see all the work that goes into preparing and delivering a team to a games come to life and the individual performances have been very special. To see the clear passion everyone has to represent Wales on a global stage is mind blowing and I feel very proud to be part of it. Congratulations to all four of the sports, every athlete and member of our support team.’
Chair of CGW, Gareth Davies added;
‘As Chair of Commonwealth Games Wales, it is a very proud moment to look back on the last couple of weeks to see what Team Wales have achieved, not only from a performance perspective, but the pride, respect and passion every single athlete and support staff has shown from start to finish. It was a real honour to be there to see the Welsh athletes, swimmers and cyclists in Trinidad and the women’s rugby sevens players over in Tobago. There was also a real togetherness across the Commonwealth nations, supporting each other across the different sports. Congratulation Team Wales, your country is very, very proud.’
Catch up on the Daily Highlights:
Team Wales Medals:
- Tyler Melbourne-Smith – Swimming, 1500m Freestyle
- Tomi Roberts-Jones – Athletics, T38 100m
- Tyler Melbourne-Smith – Swimming, 400m Freestyle
- Maxwell Anderson – Swimming, 200m Breaststroke
- Max Bufton – Cycling, Men’s Road race
- Theodora Taylor – Swimming, 100m Breaststroke
- Sam Fisher – Cycling, 3000m Individual Pursuit
- Theodora Taylor – Swimming, 50m Freestyle
- Sam Fisher – Cycling, Points Race
- Theodora Taylor – Swimming, 200m Breaststroke
- Holly Marshall – Swimming, 400m Individual Medley
- Theodora Taylor – Swimming, 50m Breaststroke
- Swimming, Mixed 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (Tyler, Sophie, Theo, Solomon)
- Theodora Taylor – Swimming, 200m Individual Medley
- William Bishop – Athletics, Long Jump T38