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Dai's Diary

I'm busy re-writing this page, please visit again sometime in the future

 

2004

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2004 - Retired as chairman of Multisport Racing Club. Took Triathlon Academy to Lanzarote on training camp. Took part in a 'multisport' event Aberavon Beach to the top of Pen-y-Fan (30 miles cycling, 10 miles running, broke course record by 30 miniutes but finished 2nd to Tom Gibbs who beat it by 32 (and went on to become the World Adventure Racing Champion in 2010). Did the Llandovery Triathlon, finished 2nd. 

News in July was that the college were heavily in debt, took redundancy along with many others as College brought in a hatchet man as the new Principal. Came back to Rugby Relics full time. CLICK HERE FOR THE HISTORY OF NEATH PORT TALBOT COLLEGE TRIATHLON ACADEMY. I was invited to take part in the Seat 'Men's Health' Challenge in Spain. How can you turn down a challenge like that, photos from this challenge appear on the SEAT CHALLENGE PAGE - CLICK HERE. The story that appeared in Men's Health appears below. In December Rugby Relics helped to refurbish the William Webb Ellis pub in the town of Rugby. 

(Illustration left- NPT College Triathlon Academy's Training Camp in Lanzarote, what a week !) 

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2005 with-gallaher.jpg (51468 bytes) 2005 - My 20th year in triathlon was celebrated with one of the hardest events on the calendar at Blaenavon, I finished !. Had a good day out at the Welsh Orienteering Championships, finishing 3rd in my category, although I'm still struggling big time with this sport. Had another nice day out with a stroll over the mountains, doing the half course in 'mountaineering' section of the Welsh 1000s (see 1993 for my last time in this event), broke the course record for the veteran's section although I was nowhere near fit, tramping up Snowdon brought back great memories. It was happy father time when Vicky & Laurie both made it to University and Dale got his Welsh 'vest' in orienteering. Took Simon to his first international at the Millennium Stadium to see Gavin Henson slot the ball over against England. We then bought the grass he kicked off and encapsulated it in paperweights. Appeared in a documentary on BBC with Gareth Edwards on the 1905 Wales v NZ game, also appeared in the crowd of another on S4C and had a line 'Play Up Wales'.  

(Illustration - pictured with Dave Gallaher and Billy Wallace prior to filming the S4C documentary)

 

2006
2006 was a bit of an Annus Horriblus, if it could go wrong it did but I won't bore you with the details. The kids did well though ! Vicky finished 2nd in the Welsh slalom championships, just 2 seconds off the number one spot. Dale represented Wales at orienteering and cyclo cross and Simon won the under 12 orienteering short course Welsh championships. I had a few purple patches, the orienteering started to come together, with a couple of good runs, I won the Swansea Bay orienteering summer league but this worked on a handicap system, my best result was third in an event. I won the Welsh veteran's aquathlon championships (see below for the finish). 

Took a Celtic Tri training camp to France for a week in May, click here for the story of this week. My triathlon for the year was in Bude (my 21st year)  which Dale also did and I did a few cyclo cross events towards the end of the year. Bought a new bike for Dale, thank goodness because a couple of weeks later I broke his old one cyclo cross training, made a bit of a mess of my face in the gravel and three hours later I had to go to watch the Ospreys thrash Australia. What a fantastic night for the Ospreys, by the end of the night though I could only see through one eye, the other had closed and I looked like I'd been ten rounds with Joe Calzaghe.  The World Rugby Museum made it's mark with an exhibition to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Welsh Rugby Union  and Charlotte Church bought Gavin Henson one of our paperweights for Christmas. Proud moments of the year were when both Vicky and Dale joined me and completed the 'Round the Pier Swim' in Aberavon, The water was seriously bumpy and eight people were pulled out or were retired including some experienced swimmers. Simon played the Wizard of Oz in the school production of the same name, it was great to see him on stage.  I appeared on the Jamie Owen show on Radio Wales answering questions about rugby memorabilia. From now on I will consider myself a TV and radio personailty !!!!!! 

 

2007
An extremely busy year, we moved to the city of Glynneath and there was the 2007 Rugby World Cup which kept us pretty busy. I'm sure I did things during 2007 when I remember I'll add them !.............

I remembered this........ I went to Krakow, Poland to watch Vicky represent Great Britain in the Under 23 European Championships in Poland, she had a fantastic first run and her one touch on the cost her 2 seconds and meant that she was in 5th position after the first run instead of leading the competition. A poor second run and and even poorer judging decision meant she missed the qualifying place for the semi-final by one place and finished 21st overall.

 

2008
Another busy year, mainly spent trying to develop www.rugbyrelics.com. Still taking part in the occasional sporting event: My one triathlon for the year was the new Celtic Tri Race in Margam, other events were the Welsh 1000s half course, Margam Park Duathlon, Aberavon Aquathlon, & Glynneath 5 road race, getting slower by the week. Dale and I competed in all but one event of the Welsh Cyclo Cross series, Dale finishing 3rd junior, I was 18th overall. Both Dale and Simon represented Wales at orienteering. 

I won the short course event at the Welsh Orienteering Championships. Victoria didn't have the best of years, she was identified as a possible participant in the Beijing Olympics but a shoulder injury meant she missed the kayak season, she had an operation in October. 

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Margam Park Duathlon start, pictured far left, / and the finish, I went on a photoshop course earlier in the year, cyclo cross at Pembrey

 

2009
When does life get any easier...... never ! I spent the spring trying to get fit for the Welsh 1000s, full course this year so it was a serious day out on the mountains. I was getting there nicely when with six weeks to go I developed a hernia while lifting crates. I managed a small amount of training going in to the event but on the day I felt great until I hit the junction of the Miner's and the Pyg track then a big gorilla jumped on my back and I had to carry him all the way to the top. It was quite a nasty day with a lot of people taken off by the mountain rescue - click on this link for the BBC story - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8087297.stm   but I did OK finishing 2nd in the race and being part of the winning team, interestingly my time was almost good enough to have won the military section, over 2 hours slower than I used to win it in, in the olden days. In July I had a delightful day out at Victoria's graduation in Notttingham Uni, she'd achieved a 1st class honours masters degree in Chemistry. I entered the Gower and Glynneath triathlons, did the Gower OK, well at least I finished it but then "OUCH" said my left calf muscle as I pulled it like I'd never pulled it before, landing awkwardly during an orienteering competition near the Dan-yr-Ogof caves in the Swansea valley. The Glynneath triathlon came and went and I couldn't even think about hobbling around it. I got back on feet and despite a couple more minor pulls I won my first orienteering competition at Aberedw Rocks near Builth Wells in November. Early December an article appeared in 'Inside Welsh Sport Magazine' Christmas Issue (no. 4) proclaiming 'Dai Richards as 'Wales' Fittest man' - nice one ! 

or visit the I Welsh Sport website and view the interview there !

http://i-welshsport.co.uk/#/dai-richards/4550574798

  Next year is the big '5 - 0' so I've entered the Roth Ironman in Germany to celebrate !

 

 

2010

The Roth Ironman came and went without me on the start line, too many small niggly injury problems meant there was no way I was going to be fit enough to finish the event. So to celebrate the big 5 and 0 i decided to run around Wales. in stages of course, one big run would take a serious amount of time. Thursday seemed like a good day so on a Thursday in January I set off from Loughor Bridge which seemed as good a start point as any and headed off down the coast to Penclawdd. two hours later I pulled a calf muscle so my run turned to a walk and I decided there and then to 'Walk Around Wales'....... in stages of course. Events for the year included Welsh 1000s half course, (finished 2nd), Vale of Neath Triathlon (25th). Orienteering was reasonable, I won an event at Plynlimon in Mid Wales and had a couple of other good finishes. 

Simon represented Wales again at orienteering. had a great day out in early October when Dale and I climbed Cadair Idris first thing, then onto Bala to watch Victoria win the Welsh senior slalom kayak championship for the first time !   

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There is a boat there somewhere & look at that proud father with the Welsh Champion.

Sunrise over Snowdonia from Cadair Idris with a little help from our Photoshop friend !

September 2010 - I launched my Personal Training website www.personal-trainer-wales.com for training in the world's greatest adventure park WALES - so if you need any coaching, personal training or guiding in the open air or swimming pool then visit.

 www.personal-trainer-wales.com 

With my walk around Wales I got almost as far as White Castle between Monmouth and Abergavenny, my GPS packed in but I reckon so far I've done around 400 miles. I timed it just right so that on one walk I could enter the Welsh Pinball Classic and now I'm ranked the 4th best pinball player in Wales. Please form an orderly queue for my autograph !  

My one triathlon for the year was Glynneath, I think I finished around 25th, I won an orienteering event on Plynlimon mountain near Aberystwyth. I also did Race the Train in mid Wales (failed by 3 minutes to beat it) and the Glynneath 5 road race (34.33) and Nos Galan (19.57), getting quicker towards the end of the year, are things looking up for 2011................

very unlikely !!!!!!! 

 

 

2011
.....has arrived and gone and I was alive but busy - once I edit my photos from this year I'll remember what I did so please come back and visit in 15-20 years time.........  Ahhhhhhh I remember that I started 'Moonwalking' not the Michael Jackson type but walking in a full to nearly full moon - two of these 'moonwalks' stand out in my mind. The 'awesome incredible moonwalk' where I witnessed a seriously fantastic sunset over the Black Mountain while walking from Brecon to home and the other walking the Crib Goch knife edge to the top of Snowdon with cloud cover with no lights on ! This was my first time over the knife edge and it was seriously scary. Thanks to my LEADER Simon Pierce for that one !!!! - memories are flooding back, in August i organised an exhibition for the official Welsh Rugby Union 130th Anniversary dinner, watch this space for more ! my triathlon for the year was an open water midweek one at Rheola Pond. I finished !

 

2012
.............has arrived and I'm busy again - it's the end of June and in the last 5 weeks I've ticked off a couple more things from my 'bucket list' both titled 'Three Peaks' - the first was Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon which I did leading the 'Ford Walking Group, Bridgend in the fantastic time of 22 hours 57 mins including the driving (by Top Man Jeff Rees and Top Lady Fran) and the Welsh Three Peaks Snowdon, Cader Idris & Pen-y-Fan in around 14 hours with me driving and climbing and sleeping. This was Dale's 21st birthday weekend and we had a small window in rubbish weather so had to start on Snowdon at 1.00 am, which also makes my last three trips up Snowdon in the dark !!!! Fun times.

 

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Dale & I on the top of Pen-y-Fan - Welsh Three Peaks Moonwalking with the guys - Myself, James, Dale & Martin

 

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Ben Nevis

Me, Keith, Tony, Ian, Paul, Steve

Alan, Nicky

Scafell Pike

Nicky, Steve, Paul, Me, Tony, Alan 

Snowdon

Paul, Nicky, Tony, Steve, Me

Alan taking the photo

20th July - Mum passed away after a long illness, tough times for all the family. She was a great Mum and always did her best for me. CLICK HERE to see more about her. 

The next 6 months were mostly spent on work and family admin and I had to put personal training on hold indefinitely. A calf injury played havoc with running and I missed the Glynneath Boxing Day 5 and Nos Galan for the first time in a few years. I did manage to get the racing bike out for the Glynneath triathlon to keep my 28 year triathlon streak going and managed a top 20 finish. In the week leading up to the Wales v New Zealand match we met with Sir Colin Meads and Richie McCaw for them to add their 'Thumbographs' to my increasing memorabilia collection. 

Towards the end of the year I think i discovered that I have ADHD 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' which may account for my unusual lifestyle and attitude to life and the universe. I've done a few tests and have ticked most of the boxes to confirm this. Now what ?  

 

2013
........... was a busy year, apart from working a million hours every week I went to Wembley to watch the Swans win the Capital One (League) Cup. I took the kids up in a hot air balloon. 

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Hayley and I welcomed our first grandchild Gethin John Philip Thomas. My little girl Victoria became Dr Victoria. Laurie moved out, Dale & Jess moved in and Simon continues to follow his big sister doing a chemistry degree. 

The family at Laurie's 28th birthday meal

James & Laurie, Jess & Dale, me, Hayley holding Gethin, Dr Victoria & Simon

I made plans to harness my ADHD and then went off and did something completely different. I remembered what my triathlon in 2011 was and have filled it in, 2013 was the local Glynneath one, I finished, top 20 again I think. I managed to break my longest continuous daily training run and increased it from 115 to 275, but I didn't get fast, my best result in the West Glam cross country league was 97th. I did a couple more legs in my Walk Around Wales and am now at Newchurch which is just north of Hay-on-Wye. 

Did my first acting job for an agency, as a striking miner I did the first ever movement in the first scene filmed for the film 'Pride' in Onllwyn putting up a poster,  the film is out next year and stars Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton. Here I am next to Bill Nighy in one of the publicity stills.

 

More stuff to follow once I've edited the photos - there are now at least 4 years photos to edit so it might take a while !!!!!

 

2014
..... has arrived and I'm old and tired, mum and dad have gone so that makes me the head of my little clan, my first cousin is a great grandfather so I'm in that generation, in the West Glam Cross Country League I finished 138th in the same race I finished 2nd in 25 years ago. I'm old and tired but I did invent 'porridge on the point' last week for no particular reason. 

Recipe for Porridge on the Point - find a point along the south Wales coast (illustrated Port Eynon Point). Take a camping cooker, camping gas, saucepans & lighter, spoon & ingredients. Arrive at the point about 20 minutes before sunrise, refresh the body with a beverage of your choice, (mine is coffee). Pour your ingredients (one cup of porridge oats, once cup of milk, one cup of water) into the saucepan, cook porridge on a low heat to the preferred consistency. Eat while the sun is rising, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............ followed by the beverage of your choice. 

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The weather was a absolute shocker for the first couple of months and up until the end of February the two sunny mornings that we'd had so far this year were spent on Port Eynon Point enjoying the porridge. On 27th February I broke my leg (more to follow at a later date) and since then the sun has shone almost every day. Somebody up there doesn't like me.......

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More about the broken leg later, it's 8th June and today was the first day I've missed in the swimming pool for 8 weeks, I did my first ride on the road bike after 2 weeks on the mountain bike. I've been off crutches for 4 weeks now and have entered the Glynneath triathlon in September, hopefully I'll be able to jog the run leg !  

July & August I worked 5 days on the BBC series Wolf Hall

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Episode 3 - in the Canterbury Crowd

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Episode 4 - Lord Dai of Glynneath in the Thomas More trial

12th September was the release date for Pride and I was seriously excited. I didn't get much screen time but there is one moment in the film when I am the only person on screen, and I'm filling the screen............... with my back, still back is better than nothing. I've uploaded this clip to Youtube - see below - I'm the guy putting up the posters and when the chap in the bus shouts 'Martin come on', that's me getting into the bus before Martin.

https://youtu.be/6QNQ7tAvCdU

My last appearance in a fleeting one in the march back to work

https://youtu.be/U9z2ymHKD_E

Here's a photo because it really is fleeting.

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November - Dr Victoria got married to Dr Christina, our first family same sex wedding.

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December I started my Walk Around Wales blog, just so that I can talk more about myself, from now on you'll find a lot more rubbish about me written on there. 

 

 

2015

.....has arrived and I'm always trying to keep myself busy so it's July now and I'm updating this page for the first time in ages. So where are we now - still in Glynneath, still at Rugby Relics, I've relaunched my personal training www.personal-trainer-wales.com  after breaking my leg. Hayley has lost two stone, Laurie and James have bought a house in Pontypridd, Dr Victoria is living in Cambride and working with the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dale and Jess have bought a house in Maesteg and Gethin's first word was bike and he's not yet two and he's flying around on his balance bike so I guess he might take up archery at some stage. Hats off to Simon who in now Simon Thomas BSc Hons after getting a 1st class honours degree in Chemistry. The kids fight for their photo to be in the centre spot of the mantlepiece. With Simon the only one now living at home he wins every time.

The Pride video was launched in March and when you put it on the Pathe introduction comes up then the first thing you see is me me me putting up posters with the selection menu, then it cuts to other scenes from the film and loops around so I can sit and watch myself on DVD all day long. I just need to get a tele now. Click on the link below to view this

https://youtu.be/kSjxstpOvqk

Maytime I started the Dai-athlon, a North Wales to South Wales triathlon challenge. I've done a few more legs on my Walk Around Wales and am now between Knighton and Montgomery. www.walk-around-wales.com is now an on-going blog of my walks and stuff CLICK HERE to view this website.

 

21-dai-rwc-simon.jpg (196070 bytes) Simon and I met the Rugby World Cup (William Webb Ellis Trophy) in July 2015 when it came to Glynneath. I took the William Webb Ellis signature from my collection along to have it photographed with the cup. To see more on this please........... CLICK HERE 
46.jpg (95121 bytes) 45.jpg (247180 bytes) In December I had a part as a llama handler in the BBC series 'The Living and the Dead' My new mate Grappa and myself spent a wonderful 2 hours together in a country mansion near Berkley Castle. What a great day.

 

 

2016

It's the end of June and summers over again, it's been raining for the last week. last weekend I did my first Walk Around Wales walk with a leg from Newcastle-on-Clun to Montgomery and earlier this month I did my annual triathlon, this year it was a return to the dreaded Blaenavon triathlon, now operating out of Abergavenny. The bike was a struggle and I've had easier gears put on my bike since and the walk, sorry run, of 9 miles was another struggle but I finished with the leg in reasonable shape but to do this I had to walk approximately 7 of the 9 miles. I had the slowest run, which is the first time ever in a triathlon, but who cares, the important thing is that I can still run a little and the leg is still improving. I spent most of the year focussing on my first book which was launched on 13th December.

 

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"UNDERSTANDING THE ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF SPORT"

Volume 1 – RUGBY UNION - by Dai Richards

“The origin of Rugby Union explained”

When Richie McCaw raised aloft the William Webb Ellis trophy after the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, few people would have thought about the schoolboy after whom the trophy was named. In his recent publication, sport historian Dai Richards explores the origin of Rugby Union and closely examines how sports evolve. He contends that the 1897 report by the Old Rugbeian Society that named Webb Ellis as the founder of rugby football was incorrect in its conclusion and that the origin of the sport has been misrepresented throughout written history. Through thorough research and analysis, the origin of Rugby Union is instead placed with the boys of Rugby School in the late 18th century. Published in a limited signed edition, this book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of Rugby Union or the development of sport in general. 

ISBN: 978-0-9531714-1-5  -  Price: £25.00 + p&p

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE OR FOR MORE INFO

Go on, buy a copy, you know you want to.

 

 

 

THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ME !

  • I'm distantly related to Oscar winning film star Ray Milland, he was married to my great auntie's cousin on Mum's side and there is also a link on Dad's side too.

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  • I was once the manager of a pop group. It was only for about two weeks and I failed to get them a gig, but when eventually 'Two Minds Crack' found themselves a decent manager they reached number one in the Italian pop charts.

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  • I once 'flicked over' and caught a stack of 72 beer mats. It was late one Saturday night  in the Baglan RFC clubhouse ! Beermat turning for the uninitiated is a beer drinkers game of skill.

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  • I once kept a football up for 1752 kicks, I was about 13 years old and the ball was in the air for about half an hour.

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  • I once dislocated my shoulder sneezing.

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  • I once paddled in a kayak across Swansea Bay from County Hall to Mumbles Lighthouse and back.

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  • My great great grandfather built Victoria Gardens in Neath

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  • The company my great grandfather started built the DVLA in Swansea

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  • When I grow up I want to be a backing singer on the Rolling Stones song 'Sympathy for the Devil'

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  • I once charged a conversion over. - When Baglan Youth were playing Pencoed in about 1978 we were losing by about 40 points but ever the optimist I tried to charge  a conversion down. The ball was destined to go under the bar and my touch tipped it over.

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  • Bobby Sullivan, the olympian (Judo) and husband of singing sensation Bonnie Tyler coined my first nickname 'Smiler' while I was attending his judo classes at the Afan Lido !

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  • I invented a word that has been suggested for inclusion into the Collins dictionary - ambididdlemous - http://www.collinsdictionary.com/submission/293/ambididdlemous

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  • I have a very bad memory - last night I remembered something that should go here but now I've forgotten it.

 

 

 

ARE YOU RELATED TO DAI - CLICK HERE OR ON A LINK BELOW FOR DAI'S FAMILY HISTORY

 

 

FAMILY HISTORY PAGES  -  My Mum & Dad  -  Francis-Rees Family History  -  Thomas Snow Family History  -  William Henry Snow Family History  -  Francis Family Neath History  -  Snow family back to 1520 - William Snow  -  Snow family back to 1538 - Edmund Medland  -  Victoria Gardens, Neath History

 

 

 

INDIVIDUAL SPORTS HISTORIES

AQUATHLON - ATHLETICS - BADMINTON - CROSS COUNTRY - CYCLO CROSS - DUATHLON - MARATHON KAYAKING - MOUNTAIN BIKING - MOUNTAIN RUNNINGORIENTEERING - QUADRATHLON - RUGBY - SOCCER - SQUASH - TRIATHLON

AQUATHLON

Aquathlon is the combined sport of swimming & running, it's triathlon without the bike. I haven't done many. In 2003 I finished 2nd in my age group in the British Champs and was a member of the winning team, Adrian & Aled, the other members of the team were athletes I was coaching at the time. In 2006 I finished 11th in Welsh champs and won the veteran's title and I may have won it in 2007 as well, if that was the day after Mike Loyns' barbeque, things were a little fuzzy on that particular morning.

ATHLETICS / CROSS COUNTRY

I started with the jogging boom in the early 1980's, 1982 to be exact, my first outing was the Swansea Bay 10k in which I managed 43rd place, in a time of 35.36, my main sport at the time was soccer and I didn't do much training, I was in amongst the club runners so this was quite a respectable time. My next outing was the Afan Half Marathon in the same year and I ran 1.16.??, still under 6 minutes a mile. Once again I was high up amongst the club runners, I think I finished 14th overall. This was pretty good going considering I was still running in flat trainers (I hadn't discovered cushioned running shoes yet) and nylon soccer shorts, these hurt like hell. It was a surprise to me that I could compete at athletics even though I'd won the school cross countries and done a limited amount of track running as a kid. The next year I was selected for the county cross country team and took part in the Inter Counties race at Leicester. Mid way through the summer, one of the hottest on record, the BBC caught me winning the 1500 mts at the Dole Olympics, coming off the bend to win the sprint finish in 4.21. My times steadily improved and by 1986 I was winning 5 - 6 road races a year, but then triathlon was my main sport and running just a means to an end. I didn't do too badly though winning the county championship at 5000 mts in 1985 and cross country in 1996. I now try to take part in the Glynneath 5 Boxing Day Run and Nos Galan (I did finish 2nd in the Nos Galan in the mid 1990s) every year, they are nice social events and if I can manage to don a set of pink and yellows I will.  

BADMINTON

I first started playing badminton when I was about 13, playing 3 - 4 times a week I soon became quite handy with a racquet and eventually played league badminton for the British Steel Company, Margam. I had a couple of seasons playing with the team (1976 - 1978 ish) but sharpness, a requirement for badminton just wasn't there.    

CYCLO-CROSS

Once I'd dedicated myself to Triathlon, I looked around for complimentary sports, cyclo-cross fitted the bill in that there were cycling skills involved and getting off the bike and running. In my first event at Morfa Stadium I finished 4th and in my second race I beat half the Welsh team, the next season I won my first 'cross' and was selected for the Welsh team, my first international vest/jersey, although they took back the jersey due to 'economical reasons' and it was several years later before I managed to pinch a cycling jersey so that I can show my kids that I represented Wales. I represented Wales 3 times at cyclo-cross, and was selected on a few more occasions but it didn't always fit in with my race calendar/budget. It was competing in cyclo cross that I received one of my worst injuries, 23 stitches, 17 in my leg and 6 in my arm while racing on an old coal tip. I only slid on some grass but must have caught my leg and arm on a piece of slag. What annoyed me most was that I had to pull out of the race, I was leading at the time, in front of Tim Davies, my future team mate and British Mountain Bike Champion. I'd only beaten him once before and was never to beat him again. 

DUATHLON - (Run/Bike)

Always one of my strongest sports I won several duathlons in South Wales in the late 1980s & early 1990s. The Bynea Biathlon as it was then called was my first duathlon  where I lost out to team mate Martyn Hughes, after that I won the race 3 or 4 times, finishing second on another 2 or 3 occasions. I won events at Worcester and Hereford in successive weeks, the Hereford victory was one of my best results, I beat, British Ironman champion Chris Ray into second and Welsh Triathlon champion Phil Kibble into 3rd. In 1994 I won the Welsh Sprint Championship and represented Wales in 1995.    

MARATHON KAYAKING

I took up Marathon Kayaking to compliment Quadrathlon, it was after all the 4th discipline. This sport is not easy, unlike any other forms of kayaking, the marathon kayak does one thing, it goes in a straight line. I struggled with balance throughout my career and in the first 6 months of having a marathon kayak I spent most of the time in the water swimming with it. Likewise in most of my early races I fell out on most. I was selected to represent Wales in 3 events but only ended up doing the 'Tour of Scotland' because of other commitments. I won my only kayak race on the River Usk (near Newport), an 8 mile race, the last 3 miles against the incoming tide. Not a sport I greatly enjoyed but a necessary evil for Quadrathlon.    

MOUNTAIN BIKING

This is a sport with which I've had a love/hate relationship over the years. The early days, when mountain biking was introduced to Britain were tough, no suspension meant you were bounced all over the place and at one time I'd wake up the morning after a tough race (not with hangover) with arthritic pains in the fingers and wrists. My early races on the mountain bike were a nightmare, my first, a national series event at Cannock Chase was one big mudbath from start to non finish. Riding behind another bike at speed through mud means you have to continually blink to rid the eyes of any mud that gets in them and to hopefully catch the mud before it hits the eyeball. If it hits the eyeball then the blinking will hopefully clear it, if not, you just have to guess which way to go ! We were about three-quarters of the way through the race when I came down hard on the back of the saddle and it snapped. No saddle and a sticking up seat post meant no finish to my first race. The second and third races were also non finishes due to mechanical problems. It was a big thank you to Schmoo for providing bikes, parts, transport, event fees, in fact everything to do with mountain biking. I spent 5 years as a sponsored rider with the Schmoo's team. My best finish I think was 8th or 9th in a national series event but my best result was 10th at another event at Cannock Chase, 8 of the riders in front of me were professional and the one amateur Nicky Craig was to turn professional the next year. The were another 10 - 15 professionals behind me including Chris Walker who went on to win the Milk Race a couple of years later. I represented Wales a couple of times including the MTB Tour of Britain, a televised event that was to rival the Kellogs Tour, the race lasted a week and we were transported all around Britain for the races, it was great to ride amongst the top riders in Europe, I finished the leading rider in the Welsh team. In 1995 I won the Welsh veterans championship.  The Welsh championships only came into being around 1992/3, a shame really, in 1989 I was the leading Welsh rider in the Welsh 'Open' at Abergavenny. The love/hate relationship I think stems from taking risks. I'm naturally a non-risk taker but to win events and race amongst the best you have to take risks, a necessary evil, I have the scars to prove it. It's also the expense of the sport, it costs a fortune to run a decent bike if you are doing the miles. There is no way I could have afforded to do mountain biking if it wasn't for Schmoo. Sadly, no longer with us, the man was a Saint.

MOUNTAIN RUNNING

As a kid we lived half way up a mountain, running downhill to the bus stop for school in the morning was always a natural thing and when tramping with friends 'up the mountain' I was always first to the top. Mountain running is great fun but you always pay for it after with dead legs from the downhills. I was selected to represent Wales in 1993 in the Home Internationals and in my mountain running career I won 3 or 4 'mountain' races although I have never really done that many in total. My one love on the mountains was the Welsh 1000s, a race starting at sea level near Bangor and ending at the top of Snowdon, after visiting the three other highest peaks in Wales (Carnedd Llewellyn, Carnedd Dafydd & Crib-y-Ddysgol). On paper the distance is about 25 miles but in reality it's more like 30. You have a list of items to carry, wetproofs, whistle, survival bag, torch, food, etc. The competition is organised by the British Army and there is a military section where the runner has to wear regulation boots and lightweights (trousers). I ran the race in 1992 & 1993 and won comfortably on both occasions over 10 minutes in front of my nearest competitors. In 2005 I went back to do the half race in the mountaineering section of the 1000s, just to get the feel of the mountains again, it was wonderful to be skipping up Snowdon again. I broke the course record for my age group in this category in this race. 

ORIENTEERING

I always fancied myself at orienteering, the local club, Swansea Bay OC is fantastically well organised and they are superb at encouraging new people into the sport. I tried to get into it as far back as the late 1980s but with a young family it was too logistically tough. I started again with the family in about 1999 and 2000, mostly I just accompanied the boys while they were on their courses, there's a great family atmosphere at the club so there were also plenty of playmates for a post competition muck about for the boys while I managed the occasional nightmare run. Then the 'Foot & Mouth' epidemic hit and the countryside was closed off. It took us 3 years to get back into the sport. We had a full year's local competition in 2004 when more often that not I finished last. In 2005 I still struggled but there's a glimmer of hope for the future with 3 top 5 finishes in the Swansea Bay Summer League and 3rd place in my age group at the Welsh Champs. In 2006 I was orienteering with more consistency, I won the summer league at Swansea Bay and showed an improvement generally. 2007 was a bit of a so so year but 2008 started with a bang when I won the short course for my age group at the Welsh championships. In 2009 I also won the short course for my age group and also won outright my first competition.    

QUADRATHLON  (Swim-Kayak-Cycle-Run)

I first saw the sport of Quadrathlon in one of the triathlon magazines and thought, Mmmmmmmmmm like it ! A bit like multi-sport really, you see something and just know you can do it. I looked at it and it didn't take me long to decide I should spend the next 8 years of my life focusing on winning the Quadrathlon World Championship in the year that I turned 40, I even bought a house next to a canal so I wouldn't have to travel to train in the kayak. There were no doubts in my mind, the day I won the championship I was in the 'zone' big time, from start to finish. My overall position was 8th (in the world) but more importantly I was the best over 40 Quadrathlete in the world.  A week before I'd won the European veteran's title and also finished 8th in that race, but as far as I was concerned that race was a warm up, a test, if I'd returned home European champion and not World Champion then that would have been a failure and I would have had to do it again and again until I got it right. The greatest feeling was crossing the line and Hayley and the boys were there, I can't stop smiling now that I think about it. Sadly it was just too logistically tough to get the girls there !!!!!! But I think it was the feeling of relief more than anything else ! Although I had been preparing for 8 years my first quad was only in 1997 when I finished 2nd in a race in the Peak District. In 1998 I was 7th in the European Championships, two days prior to this when I was tapering down I recorded my lowest ever pulse rate of 29, I was incredibly fit, it was just my kayak section that was letting me down. In 1999 I was 2nd  the British Champs, held in Scotland. The fact that you have to arrive at the start line with wetsuit, bike & kayak makes quadrathlon an incredibly difficult sport in which to organise yourself. I suppose that was one of the factors that helped me to succeed, I'm quite well organised !!!!   

RUGBY PLAYER

My first ever game was for Tirmorfa Junior School, I remember playing on the wing and scoring a try, but not what the result was. I was never a regular in the school team, I wasn’t a big lad and I wasn’t fast, I had some skills but not enough. I played 4 or 5 times for the school team in form 3 (now year 9) of the comprehensive at full back but missed a tackle, we lost, I got dropped and that was my last game at school. 

I started playing youth rugby for Baglan RFC after I packed in refereeing, firstly I just made up the numbers, playing anywhere there was a space, wing, second row, hooker, full back, scrum half, centre, then commanded a regular sport at outside half, the only ‘famous’ player I can remember facing during ‘youth’ rugby was Bleddyn Bowen, (captain of the 1988 Welsh Triple Crown side). It was during the last couple of months of youth rugby  that I badly dislocated my shoulder, we were playing a local derby against Cwmavon and mid way through the second half the No 8 broke off the scrum and ran straight at me, I dipped my shoulder and met force with force only as I kept on going forward my shoulder started going backward, so it was off to the hospital and once I woke up and after the anaesthetic I enquired as to the outcome of the match. It ended in a 6 - 3 victory for us, I had scored both the penalty and drop goal that won us the game, small consolation for 10 weeks in a sling. The next season I was back playing for the 2nds, but on the second match popped my shoulder again, I was able to lever it back in this time and carried on playing and over the next few months it popped again and again and again.  

Although the shoulder was weak and I was unable to tackle hard if at all, I managed to force my way into the first team at Baglan from about Christmas onwards. At that time the club were one of the strongest junior union and I had the pleasure of playing behind a very strong pack, including several players who had played first class rugby in Wales, Jimmy Owen at prop (Aberavon & Wales B), Gareth Edwards at hooker (Maesteg) , Kevin Gregory, AKA Yashin, second row (Aberavon), Keith Evans No 8, (Aberavon). My main position was at full back but I was also the back up scrum half should the regular player Andrew Lane be unavailable. Here I partnered Garry 'Guts' Owen, a talented ball player who had turned out occasionally for Aberavon, Bridgend & Neath. (Guts and I used to play half backs for the local Police side midweek, just to get more games in). This season we won every cup available in the Aberavon District and I was selected to play for the district side against the Neath district at the end of the season. This was to be my last serious match as a 'rugby' player, the shoulder was causing too many problems, dislocating at the oddest times, sneezing, swimming, etc.  The Baglan team went on to win the Welsh Brewers cup in the following two seasons, the Brewers Cup was a tournament for all clubs not affiliated to the Welsh Rugby Union, a high profile tournament amongst junior clubs with the final played at Cardiff Arms Park.  

I officially retired from rugby and signed up for the operation to correct my shoulder problem with the National Health Service. The waiting list was long and I spent the next three seasons playing soccer for Baglan Boys Club in the Port Talbot League.  However, if a game was postponed or we had a free weekend I made my way to the rugby club looking for a game. I didn't always make it, often I'd be pulled up by a committee man of the Briton Ferry Steel RFC who's headquarters were only 200 yards from the Baglan Rugby Club. The Ferry Steel were always short and were delighted to recruit me as I made my way to the club, I nearly always turned out at scrum half for them as I did for the Aberavon Naval RFC who were another club always on the 'look out' for players. Occasionally I'd turn out for Baglan, but only when a half back or full back specialist was required. During this time I remember coming on as a replacement for Baglan at scrum half against Rhigos. The game was already won, but I had 15 minutes playing against my boyhood hero Dai Morris. I tried to tackle Dai but it was like running into a lamp-post. The man is made out of granite, I can't say I bounced off him, I just came to a stop and he carried on going.   

I finally had the operation to correct my shoulder problem in 1984 but by then I was a runner so rugby took a back seat. I did have a final flourish in about 1988 - 1990 when I turned out several times for the 4th Battalion Royal Regt Wales (Territorial Army). The 4th Battalion (based in Swansea) had never beaten the 3rd Battalion (based in Cardiff) so when we beat them at Skewen in 1989 (I think) it was a big thing for our team. I had a good game at outside half, scoring and converting the first try. My one abiding memory of that match is our old commanding officer Colonel Howells coming on at half time (we were about 15 points up at this stage) and saying he was going to commission the biggest cup we had ever seen as an annual trophy for the match. Two years later the Battalions amalgamated, I wonder where that cup is now? Our coach at the RRW was Phil Langford, the ex Neath and Wales B prop, a great motivator was Phil and a wonderful coach. He once stopped a training session and gathered everyone around to witness me scooping up the ball one handed at full flight. I had once seen Clive Shell (ex Aberavon and wales scrum half) do this in a match against Neath. I was mesmerised by this single element of skill and practised intensely until I had perfected that skill myself with either hand. Phil had never seen this done before, he probably had his head down in the scrum when Clive did it against Neath. Although the skills were still there, and my shoulder never did 'pop' again 'touch wood' I knew it was time to quit when in two successive games I'd made a break and only had to pin back my ears and make it to the goal line for a try when on both occasions I was caught by a prop forward. Time to call it a day !

The question that haunts every Welshman who has never played for Wales is. "Would I have made it if so and so hadn't happened ?"  we've all got our excuses ? Mine is my shoulder ! Would I ever have pulled on the red shirt of Wales? The anwser is NO ! Basic speed, basic strength, I was lacking in both. I may have scraped the occasional first class game for Aberavon or Neath (Aberavon were the strongest of the two sides in those days) if I was lucky. I was always on hand to play and even first class teams struggled to take midweek sides away to Pontypool, Cross Keys and Abertillery. But that would have been my lot, I couldn't have commanded a regular place for a first class team let alone selection for Wales, I had the skills but that was all. Maybe it's a blessing my shoulder went after all because I think I did pretty well in the other sports I persued!!!!!  

RUGBY REFEREE

I first considered refereeing while sitting in the stands watching Neath. I wanted to become involved in the game but never had the confidence to become a player. I approached Clive Norling and asked how I became a referee. It was Clive (I think) who put me in touch with the Aberavon district who said, "OK you want to become a referee, this Saturday Pontrhydyfen v Aberavon Green Stars, I'll get someone to contact you" talk about deep end. I was 17 and they wanted me to referee a local derby between two senior sides. Recipe for disaster, I cried off. I started refereeing youth games and the occasional senior match. I wasn't very good at it. I once sent off two captains because they couldn't control their teams, youth rugby was one big melee from start to finish. I wasn't just because I was reffing, the games I watched were the same. I passed the welsh Rugby Union's referee's exam but I'm afraid refereeing just wasn't for me. I think eventually I would have made it, some of the guys who were on the district at the same time Rob Yemen, Jeff Woods, Ron Staddon, did become first class referees. but not me.

RUGBY SUPPORTER

Supporting Neath is in the blood, although brought up in Port Talbot (Aberavon) and going through the 1970s where between 1973 and 1979 Neath didn't beat Aberavon in a run of 24 games. The old rivalry between these two teams stretch back for ever and I received some serious stick at school. But blood is thicker than linament and all my family hail from Neath so that's who I supported. I held a season ticket between 1973 and 1982 and funnily enough I used to have one at Aberavon too, but this was so that the chance of obtaining international tickets was doubled. At Aberavon you could queue for any left overs after the allocated tickets were collected. Supporting Wales was important too and between 1973 and 1981 I only missed one home game, the Grand Slam decider against France in 1976, because of a broken collar bone. From 1978 to 1980 I also watched the away matches as well. Ahhhh the good old days. On average I'd watch 3 matches a week during the season. It was on the way to watching the Newport v Llanelli cup quarter final in 1976 that I broke my collar bone. I crashed into a car at 40 mph on the way to the train station on my bike (with poor brakes). From 1981 onwards it's been a case of following my own and the kids sporting dreams, but lately, my youngest Simon is taking an interest so I can get the occasional game in. 

RUGBY ADMINISTRATOR & COACH

For a short while I served on the committee of Baglan Rugby but not very well, at 18 I was immature and didn't have the commitment needed for the job. I did however, manage to help Jimmy Owen get the Baglan Junior section off the ground. I acted as first secretary arranging fixtures etc and taking part helping out with the coaching. In our very first session, the future Neath & Cardiff and Welsh international player Steve Williams turned up together with Aberavon regular No 8, Phil Hamley. At one stage we fielded two under 16 sides including Dai Joseph, the future Welsh prop. 

RUGBY HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR

My first item of rugby memorabilia was a Wales v England 1965 programme. Given to me by a neighbour to burn on our November 5th bonfire, this was about 1969. Needless to say it didn't make it that far. By the time I was 17 (1977) I had a reasonable collection of programmes, it was then with a shoe box of doublers I started wheeling and dealing in Rugby Relics. Nearly 30 years on, here I am with one of the world's finest collections, according to the Sunday Times that is !!!!!  2005 was the 100th anniversary of "The Greatest Game" Wales v NZ 1905. I appeared on the two documentaries relating to the game. The first was where Gareth Edwards came the house retracing Dickie Owen's journey to Cardiff on the train and the second was when I appeared as an extra in an S4C documentary as a member of the crowd. I even had a line in this one "Play Up Wales". Prior to the Six Nations tournament in 2006 I 'guested on the Jamie Owen, Radio Wales show answering questions on rugby memorabilia. The World Rugby Museum provided the bulk of the exhibits for the 125th Anniversary Exhibition of the founding of the WRU in Neath. In 2016 I published my first book which pinpoints the origin of Rugby Union. 

RUGBY JOURNALIST

This is something I'd love to do more of, but pursuing my own sports, family life, you can only do so much, there are only 1440 minutes in a day and each one precious. Previously I've written articles on collecting for Rugby News, Dragon News and Kick Off the RWC magazine, I promise there is more to come in this department, and don't forget almost 100% of stuff on this and the www.world-rugby-museum.com website is written 'yours truly'

 

SOCCER / ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL

My first love was soccer, I was always kicking a ball against the wall or playing 'keep up'. My record at 'keep up' was 1752, not bad, I think the world record at the time was 4000+, but things have moved on since then and five year old kids can keep it up for more than that with their hands tied behind their backs and their feet tied together. I played my first game at the age of 8, in the under 13s league. Then an under 11s league was formed and I did quite well in that for 'Bay View' scoring the odd goal. When we moved to Baglan I played a couple of games for the 'Boys Club' but was never going to make the grade. I had town trials at school. When I packed in rugby because of my shoulder I started playing football again. Playing 3 seasons of senior football was more for enjoyment or something to do rather than ambition, although I could always see myself playing for the Swans some day !!!!. At that time Andrew Legg (Welsh international) was playing for our thirds, while I was lording it up in the seconds. 

SQUASH

I started squash when I was about 14, played on and off for 6 years. In about 1980 I woked hard at my game and by 1982 had worked my way into Division 1 of the Afan Lido ladder. I had games for the Lido C, B & A teams but not regularly. I won a handicap tournament in Cwmavon. When I moved to Neath I played a season for Neath 'C' at No 1, losing my first match but going through the remainder of the season unbeaten, dropping only one game in the process. The team were promoted and I was promoted to No 2 in the A team. I lost in the final of the club tournament and moved to Swansea with my job. I played No 1 for Swansea Leisure Centre but retired soon after (age 25) because I kept breaking my strings but couldn't afford to replace them. In my season at Neath I was ranked in the top 20 in the county.

TRIATHLON - TRIATHLETE

The first reference to Triathlon in my training diary is 1983 and I started training for one straight away, swimming was my weak point and I graduated started one width of front crawl to three widths of breaststoke. It then took me a couple of years to get my act together and do one. This year (2017) will be my 33rd season as a triathlete, although my focus is no longer on triathlon I still consider myself as a triathlete because historically that's who I've been. 

My first race was the Pen-y-Bont Ironman (Ogmore-on-Sea) in 1985, all triathlons in those days were called Ironman or something similar. the true Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle, 26.2 mile run) is now one of those trade mark things that other people aren't allowed to use, a bit like Olympic, All Blacks etc. The Pen-y-Bont Ironman was a 1 mile swim, 8 mile run and 16 mile bike, I finished 10th out of about 80 and in the next year saw an improvement of 1 place. Wetsuits were not the norm in those days, tri suits were making an appearance but I struggled on with the old vest and shorts. 1986 also saw my first podium placings, I was 2nd in the Pontardawe Tinman (to Richard Morris, an early star of the sport) and 4th in the Bleanavon Triathlon, not an event to be taken lightly. The bulk of my triathlon career, with photos, can be read in the diary section. The highlight's were representing Wales and GB, winning Welsh Championship (veteran), the low point was missing the selection race for the Commonwealth Games in 1990, at the time I was one of the best triathletes in Wales but slipped and jammed my knee in a cattle grid while lining up for a mountain bike race two weeks previous. 

During my tri-days I won several triathlons including the 1st Dyfed Open (twice - different organisers about 5 years apart), Pen-y-Bont, Hereford and the Territorial Army title 4 years in a row. The one drawback with triathlon after playing rugby and soccer was the loss of the team element, but there was one event in which we competed as a team, the Triple Sprint in Cardiff. Towards the end of my career we won this event three times in a row, it was a seriously intense affair, three triathlons, in different orders, with a team of 4 sticking together throughout the race. This brought out the master tactician in me and we prepared swim starts etc in the weeks leading up to the Sprints. Then on  the way home it would be "Simply the Best" continuous on the tape !!!!!!!! My last serious race at Triathlon was the Welsh Champs in 2000, 2 weeks after I'd won the World Quad champs. I was 3rd overall in Wales, won the veteran's title and beat everybody else in the club by at least 5 minutes. I won the vets title the following year but by then racing had taken a back seat and I was putting my efforts into administration and coaching. I'm going to try and keep the tri's going, at least one a year for as long as possible, 2005 was Blaenavon, one of the classic races, a course not for the faint hearted. 2006 my annual effort was the Bude Triathlon - what a great event, I finished ! - 2007 I was allowed to do a kids triathlon with Simon ! 2008 Celtic Tri Margam race (5th out of the water, I'm still a machine). 2009 Gower Sprint Triathlon. 2010, 2011 Vale of Neath Triathlon, 2012 Rheola Midweek Triathlon, 2013, Vale of Neath again as well as 2014 (with a broken leg) & 2015. 2016 back to Blaenavon for the slowest run out of all the competitors, but I did walk 7 of the 9 miles, the leg is still not 100%.  

TRIATHLON - ADMINISTRATOR

A huge influence on my sporting career was Schmoo (Maurice Levenson). Schmoo was a great visionary, he could see things well before they happened. One day we were on our way back from a mountain bike race and he said 'let's start a triathlon club' and so we did. I took on the role of club secretary and pursued Schmoo's vision. Schmoo contributed enough cash for 6 sets of tri-gear and soon we were shocking the Welsh public with our bright pink and yellow outfits.............and these outfits were shocking ! believe me ! Then one day I returned home from New Zealand, as you do and Schmoo's shop had gone belly up. So I was triathlon and mountain bike sponsor-less. The club changed it's name to the West Glamorgan Triathlon Club. In the next couple of years I got together with Gareth Thomas and started organising races, the first race we organised was the Swansea Enterprise Zone 10k followed by a series of Duathlons at Bridgend and Neath which attracted Welsh championship status. The race at Neath was the first ever Home International Duathlon Championships. Probably the biggest event I've helped organise was the British Triathlon Championships in Llanelli. Gareth and I split from the West Glamorgan Club and I coined the name Multisport Racing Club for our new club. I became chairman of the club and over the next 8 years co-ordinated the rise of MRC from two members into the largest and most successful triathlon club in Wales with over 200 members. There were many highlights but one that springs to mind was when club members Mike Loyns, Grant Howells & Rob Edwards finished 1- 2 - 3 in the Welsh Championships and there were several other age group placings on that day too. In September 2004 for personaI reasons resigned as chairman of Multisport RC and November 2005 several others resigned from Multisport and started a new club, Celtic Tri, I became a founder member and the newsletter editor for the first 2 years, since when I've taken a back seat in triathlon adminstration. In 2012 I was made a life member of Celtic Tri, probably to stop me from starting a another new club !

TRIATHLON - COACH / MANAGER

In the year 2001 I was offered the position of Triathlon Academy Manager at Neath Port Talbot College. This was to be the first year for a Triathlon Academy and the college needed someone to provide an initial structure, attract athletes, provide coaching and equipment, they weren't asking much. Basically I was chucked in the deep end and told, we want a triathlon academy, make it happen !!!!! What they didn't tell me was that I needed to sign a contract, and put pay sheets in, it was 6 months before I saw any wages. 

This was to be the first ever Triathlon Academy in Britain and the college's idea was to create several Academy's to attract students from outside the area so that they could also attract that student's funding. They had in the pipeline the 'Academy of Sport' at Llandarcy and although this wasn't aimed at triathlon, any base is a good base as long as you have changing facilities and a good training group. The most bizarre of these projected Academy's was the Modern Pentathlon Academy. A logistically tough sport with no known roots in the area. 

Over three years of very frustrating, but rewarding work, I developed the Triathlon Academy at Neath Port Talbot College, not made easy by the fact that the college has two main campuses and they are eight miles apart. I had one athlete signed up when I started at the college and you've guessed it, he was in the other campus. The success of the Academy would not have been possible without the commitment of the athletes I was working with. Three in particular need a special mention, without them, the project WOULD have failed. Adrian Edwards and Ffion Davies are both outstanding athletes, Adrian became the Academy's first British international, representing Great Britain in New Zealand 2003 and Ffion became the first Welsh Champion (at Duathlon) and Welsh Triathlon international (London 2003). Special mention at this time should go to Louisa Scott, another one of our original athletes who arrived at the college championships (Cymmer Triathlon) after cycling 15 miles from the nearest train station at Maesteg - it wasn't just the distance but there were some serious hills in the way before she made the start line. It was through the dedication of these three athletes that I managed to get through the first year of the Academy at the college. The fact that they turned up and took part in sessions, they did the races and this meant that the Academy increased it's strength in the inaugural year. Triathlon is not an easy sport, getting up at 6.00am in the morning to be in the pool for 7.00am, to swim two miles before breakfast is not everyone's cup of tea. Then to go running at lunchtime or maybe cycling after college and yes ! can hear you ask the question, do people really do that ? Finding kids aged 16 or 17 to do this is not easy.  I knew I could make the Academy work, I knew there were kids that wanted to commit to a sport out there, I used to be one myself, a long long time ago of course. 

I had a five year plan which would see 10 - 12 quality local athletes training together, racing together, achieving together. It would be then that the triathletes from outside the area would see what was happening at Neath and would come flocking to the college to be part of the Academy. So what the college immediately wanted and what was physically possible were 5 years apart. I was spending a lot of time at the college, the work was taking over, on top of writing programmes for the athletes, coaching 5 - 8 Academy sessions per week. In line with the five year plan I was developing a successful feeder system with the Multisport Racing Club. There were only 6 taking part in our first kids session on a Tuesday night, but this session peaked at 24 athletes in the first year, all of whom took part in a run/bike session on the Cwrt Herbert Ash track. Several of those athletes went on to become Welsh Internationals and Champions. In fact I had 3 Welsh champions lined up for Academy future years. and another 6 students, 3 of whom were internationals for the next year. I had helped to start an after school Triathlon Club at Llangatwg Comprehensive School, 10 kids were coming once a week for coaching to the college, I was attending school athletics meets and swim galas, talking to kids who were possible candidates for the Academy, I had kids introducing themselves and asking if they could join next year. For the first time I had a group of quality international athletes, the five year plan was on track, then they pulled the plug. The College suddenly found they were a million pounds in debt, a hatchet man was brought in as principal. I was offered a cut from 12 hours (I was working approx 25 per week) to 7. There was no way I could manage on a cut of these proportions, the work load was about to increase with the next batch of students, the old maxim 'if you do something do it well' came into play so I resigned as Academy Manager and came back to Rugby Relics full time. 

If any of my former students (Louisa Scott, Alex David, Adrian Edwards, Geraint Davies, Kristian Archer, Adrian Edwards, Ffion Davies, Phil Thomas, Steve Davies, Chris Morris, Ricky Langdon, Stuart Henderson, Sandra Leyman, Natasha Harry, Natalie Lawrence, James Parfitt, Kayleigh Moses, Sian Walker, Rachel Carney, Adrienne Knight, & James 'Otto' Layzell), are reading this, thank you for your support, you were all great to work with. If you are one of the students who I left at the college or one who was coming to join me at the college in the coming years. I apologise for the lack of management skills and foresight at the college, I really enjoyed working with you all without exception as your coach, we had great times and good memories. I wish you all good luck with your futures and don't forget to GRIN WHEN YOU WIN ! Shy-away 

CLICK HERE FOR THE HISTORY OF NEATH PORT TALBOT COLLEGE TRIATHLON ACADEMY.

2005 footnote - 3 out of 4 of the Welsh champions in the junior age group categories at the Welsh Triathlon Championships this year were athletes who were on the Academy development programme.

I now coach occasional sessions at Celtic Tri sessions and in 2006 I run the first Celtic Tri training camp in France. For more details of this CLICK HERE. I qualified as a level 2 triathlon coach in 2008, 7 years after initially taking the course.  

FOR PERSONAL TRAINING AND COACHING WITH DAI PLEASE VISIT 

 www.personal-trainer-wales.com 

 

 

MEMORIES OF............ 

Fitzclarence Presbyterian Church, Western Avenue, I'm pretty sure I was christened here by a minister called John Thomas, maybe ! The minister at the time I attended the church was Bill Steed, he had quite a large family with wife Jill and children Jonathan, Andrew, Philip, Joel and I think Peter. My classmates at Sunday school were John Tetsil (Noj), Ian Jones (Junto), Jeremy Isaac (Jesse), Andrew Paddison (Paddy), Keith Hughes (Ugsy) & Jonathan Steed. Other regular attendees that I can remember were the Cumpstone family Doug & Jean, Adam, Joy, Gerald, Hubert Richards, Jill, David & Bethan Rees, Claire Rose & mum, Spike & Edith, Judith & Rob Emmett, Mrs Ray Evans the organist, Diane & Vivien Chamberlain & parents, the Colburn family of Western Avenue. If I've left anyone out please email me.   

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Memories - 

'The day the earth moved'  as a piano we were moving from one room in the church to another toppled over and landed smack bang on my right foot. Mr Cumpstone rushed me to the A&E at Port Talbot Hospital in his Bedford van where I received 7 stitches in my foot, without anaesthetic, ouch ! 

Whitsun march - Every year we'd march the streets of Sandfields, not sure why but we did it every Whitsun, in our best clothes then on return have a serious slap up feast, I always remember mounds and mounds of sandwiches and then the sports. Usually we'd race, sprints, egg and spoon & sack race and get money prices 3d (three old pence) for 1st, 2d for 2nd and a penny for third.

Bryn-y-Groes, Bala - Every year we'd go to Bala for a weeks 'bible study' and activities, we'd sleep 4 or 6 to a dorm usually with one adult to keep us in line. The dorm I was in mostly was Ty Ddewi which had a little attic. The week would fly by with chess, draughts and table tennis tournaments and trips up mountains or to Harlech, Criccieth castle and of course girls, it was a great opportunity to make new friends. Those I can remember are Mandy and her cousin from Cardiff, Julia from Cardiff, the girls from Nantwich, Heather from Llansantfraid, Tim and Steve from Haverfordwest.

 

Tirmorfa Infants & Junior School, Marine Drive, 1965 - 1971, Classmates - Keith Matthews, Linda Matthews, Diane ???, Stephen Pearce, Robert Andrews, Robert Dunkley, Julie Perkins, Sonia Stanton, Neil Harries, Gary Watkins, Keith Hughes, Brian Beckett, Paula Beckett, Nigel Isaacs, David Allsop, David Roberts, Terrance Earland, Terry John, Clare Rose, Mark Downton, Paul Bamsey. Teachers Scarface, Mr Harrison, Ron Jones, Mr Bamsey (head), Miss Mahoney, Mr Thomas  

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Memories - 

Moonwalk - The day that man first walked on the moon Mr Thomas brought a portable television into school for his class to watch Armstrong take his first steps. This was happening while the rest of the school were having assembly. The head was looking for a boy and girl to watch the 'first steps' with Mr Thomas and report back to assembly with the news. The two he was to choose were to be the straightest at sitting up and keeping still (classic teacher strategy that). The head couldn't choose because everyone was like a pillar of stone so he choose the two children who had taken the bible reading which happened to be Julie Thomas (in Welsh) and myself (in English), awesome, I can't remember anything else about it, when we got back we said something like 'yes ! they walked on the moon'.

Bannisters - if there was a banister I'd slide it, one day I stayed on too long and a sharp bit at the end caught my leg. When I got home that evening I showed my Mum, Dad took me to the hospital for 3 stitches. I got off early each time after that. 

Scarface - One teacher, we used to call him 'scarface' hated me. I'd spend hours standing outside the room in the naughty corner (it wasn't known as a 'naughty corner' in those days). When he marked our work he'd sit in his seat at the front of the class and fling our exercise books straight at you shouting your name first followed be a comment. I can always remember his favourite words as my book left his hand 'RICHARDS ! UTTER RUBBISH'. 

 

Afan Lido Sports Centre and Swimming Pool, I spent so much time there it could be regarded as my second home. At one time in the early 1980s I'd spend at least 8 - 10 hours there every day, playing squash, badminton & table tennis.

Memories - 

Friday nights in the mid 1970s was Badders (badminton) night. Noj (John Tetsill), Anthony Jones, Paula & Brian Beckett and I used to play badminton every Friday night in the Lido. We'd walk down through Sandfields passing by the Four Winds & Hotel Executive (now the Aberafan Hotel), occasionally popping into the Executive to play the new electronic machines, the first they had if I remember correctly was the old tennis type for two people, then they had the machine where you had to knock the bricks out of a wall and try and get behind the wall, I can't remember it's name but it was seriously addictive. On reaching the Lido we used to buy our tickets for badminton but first we'd play on the pinball machines, they were seriously addictive. (The first pinball machines I can remember in the Lido were so old they didn't even have flippers). Replays were few and far between but when we made them we let the whole world know. Badders was usually doubles, occasionally the courts were full and  we played winners stayed on against other doubles teams but generally we played amongst ourselves. On the way home it was into Franco's on the beach front for pastie and chips (awesome chips and they still are !) and back to Noj's house for cards (Sergeant Major if we were 3 or Chase the Bitch if we were 4 or more) - we were compulsive competitors always competing against each other and when we won we'd mercilessly taunt the losers. All good fun though unless you'd lost !!!!!

More memories to follow............... if you can remember any that I haven't listed...............

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