World champion coach takes Wales title

With a world title and record in the bag already this year for his London 2012 hopeful, a disability sport coach has added the Sport Wales Coach of the Year title to his list of successes.

Credited with developing the renowned Disability Sport Wales academy and producing an army of elite athletes, Penarth's Anthony Hughes has helped make Wales one of the most successful pound-for-pound nations in world para-sport.

COY 2011 Anthony HughesAt the senior World Athletics Championships held by IPC (International Paralympic Committee) in New Zealand in January 2011, outstanding performances by the Welsh athletes saw them return with 18% of the Great Britain medal haul.

His young star Nathan Stephens won gold in the F57 javelin, while there was a silver for Aled-Sion Davies in the F42 Discus and bronze for Kyron Duke in the F40 Javelin.

In August, Stephens broke the world record at the Czech Open, recording a distance of 41.37m.

Hughes, himself a wheelchair user, took the honour in the Coach to Disabled Performers category.

At the annual ceremony in Cardiff, a special recognition award was handed to Gwyndaf Hughes, whose battle against cancer didn't stop him devoting hours to Pwllheli Sailing Club each week and passing his Royal Yachting Association senior qualifications at the age of 71.

With over 40 years in gymnastics, Abertillery's Stuart Conner was also given special recognition for the hours he puts into sport and his work in saving his club when it merged with another club.

Other winners at this year's ceremony include Malcolm Arnold, coach to world champion Dai Greene, who picked up the High Performance Coach of the Year.

For his work to increase provision of girls football in Caerphilly, Stuart Robson picked up the volunteer award, while Flintshire's Steven Thomas picked up the Young Coach/Volunteer of the Year title for his work to get youngsters involved in London 2012.

After another successful season indoors and outdoors, Cardiff Amateur Athletics Club coach Helen James is the top female coach.Helen James

The top prize in the male category was taken by Newport boxing coach Tony Borg. Club coach to Sean McGoldrick, he played his part in preparing and training Sean to a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Delhi last October.

For his work to develop new coaches in table tennis, Pontypridd's Ryan Jenkins picked up the Contribution to Coach Development trophy.

Emphasising the importance of coaches to Welsh sport, Welsh Government funding helps Sport Wales invest around £5 million each year in grassroots and elite coaching.

Sports Minister Huw Lewis said:

"We have a wealth of talented sports coaches across Wales and their dedication and passion is helping athletes of all abilities to reach their full potential.

"These inspirational coaches instill virtues beyond sporting excellence such as discipline, team work, patience and striving to be your best.

"Whether as a professional or volunteer coach, their contribution is equally valued and I feel privileged to recognise their hard work and achievements. Congratulations to all of this year's winners and finalists."

Sport Wales, along with its partners, has committed to doubling the number of coaches and volunteers in Wales, to around 250,000 by 2016 - around 10% of the population.

Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister said:

"As well as my pride in seeing Welsh athletes and teams pick up medals and trophies, learning about the inspirational work of these coaches and volunteers is one of the best parts of my role at Sport Wales.

"As we continue to achieve success we would be nothing without the people who put in hours and hours every week, often unpaid, to provide opportunities and improve our next generation of stars.

"There are coaches and volunteers somewhere in Wales who are bringing through the next Sam Warburton, Gareth Bale and Dai Greene.

"But the main thing for coaches and volunteers is to help youngsters and athletes to be the best they can be - on whatever level. It isn't just about elite sport but giving opportunities to everyone. Our winners and finalists show how this is done in Welsh sport.

"We will continue to encourage, support and improve coaches in any way we can. We need the public to step forward and help out in their community - particularly with big events like London 2012 increasing interest like never before.
"Congratulations to Anthony and all our winners and finalists."

To sign up to coaching and volunteering opportunities in sport in Wales visit For more information visit

The Sport Wales Coach of the Tear Awards 2011 recognise achievements from 1st September 2010 to August 31st 2011.

The Winners:

Male Coach of the Year - Sponsored by Total Teamwear  

Tony Borg (Boxing) - Newport

Tony Borg is the Head Coach at St Joseph's Amateur Boxing Club in Newport; a club that is enjoying staggering success with both its professional and amateur boxers. With the help of coaches like Bill Reynolds, Borg has helped to build a thriving, talented group that have achieved on both the British and International stages over the last 12 months.

Club coach to Sean McGoldrick, he played his part in preparing and training him to a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Delhi last October and in getting him selected to represent Wales at the World Championships 2011.

Borg has also coached Fred Evans to GB success. Evans, who is now part of the GB performance programme in Sheffield, still trains at the gym in Newport and this summer became one of the first Welsh European Amateur Champions, along with Andrew Selby.

Female Coach of the Year - Sponsored by Total Teamwear  

Helen James (Athletics) - Cardiff

Cardiff Amateur Athletics Club coach Helen coaches a group of 25 male and female athletes ranging from age 11 to senior level competing over 100, 200 and 400m.

Under her stewardship, under 23 athlete Gareth Hopkins is the current Welsh indoor senior 200m champion and was selected to run for Wales at senior level indoors and outdoors in 2011.

She goes above and beyond coaching for her athletes, providing them with emotional support and motivation to achieve their goals in sport.

Helen was awarded a Life Membership of Cardiff AAC in 2010 and, this year, was given a meritorious award from Welsh Athletics for services to athletics.

Volunteer of the Year - Sponsored by Brand 68

Stuart Robson (Football) - Caerphilly

When Stuart joined Caerphilly Castle Ladies and Girls FC in 2004 the club had a small junior section and a ladies team. In the seven years since, Stuart has totally reformed the club.

The club has grown to include teams at under 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 age groups. There is also a youth and senior team.
Ten players have achieved positions on the South Wales Girls League (SWGL) development squad and one player represented Wales in the home nations' competition.

Stuart has managed to secure sponsorship deals with local businesses, which vary from kit suppliers and sponsors to match day programme printing.

Coach of the Year to Disabled Sportspeople (Overall Winner) - Sponsored by Deloitte


Anthony Hughes (Disability Athletics) - Vale of Glamorgan

National Performance Manager for Disability Sport Wales, Anthony is Head Coach and National Programme Manager for the Elite Disability Athletics Programme based at the National Indoor Athletics Centre.

He has led the formation of the successful Academy programme, making Wales pound-for-pound one of the world's most successful elite disability sporting nations.

Of the 31 Welsh athletes who were part of the Great Britain squad at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, nine of these were first-time Paralympians having come through the Academy programme.

At the senior World Athletics Championships held by IPC (International Paralympic Committee) in New Zealand in January 2011, outstanding performances by the Welsh athletes saw them return with 18% of the Great Britain medal haul. Anthony's athletes came back with a World Champion, Nathan Stephens (F57 Javelin), a silver for Aled-Sion Davies in the F42 Discus, while former powerlifter Kyron Duke grabbed a Bronze in the F40 Javelin.

Young Coach/Volunteer of the Year - Sponsored by Uwic

Steven Thomas (Multi-Sports) - Flintshire

Responsible for promoting London 2012 locally, unique to Flintshire his Olympic torch, which has been designed and created by Airbus, has been travelling across Flintshire's 88 schools to help get young people activite.

Steven coordinates his own holiday programmes across five county leisure centres. These programmes are the most successful, popular and profitable sports programmes in Flintshire, with over 6,000 children taking part this year alone. Steve coaches anything from football to basketball, tri-golf to tag rugby and water polo to BMX.

Steven has also been heavily involved in junior football. He was a volunteer coach and manager at Holywell Town Junior Football Club for six years, starting out aged 16.

Contribution to Coach Development of the Year - Sponsored by Sports Coach UK


Ryan Jenkins (Table Tennis) - Pontypridd

Even though Ryan is employed to coach elite level table tennis players, his input into table tennis in Wales goes much deeper than just elite coaching.

Ryan's commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication to the sport means it is rare he has a weekend at home in Wales, due to constantly travelling around the world with his players and coaches.

Ryan supervises two regional development coaches who work on a part and full-time basis, and provides these coaches with expert guidance, advice and knowledge, as well as a management structure to ensure that they are getting the best out of their coaching time.

Ryan works closely with the newly trained and developing tutor workforce to ensure that Wales has its own pool of tutors and assessors to provide coach education opportunities in their local areas.

High Performance Coach of the Year - Sponsored by Sporting Wales Magazine

Malcolm Arnold (Athletics) - Wiltshire

As a previous National Coach for Wales and UK Head Coach, Malcolm has coached athletes to european, world and olympic level consistently over a sustained period of time. A key figure in the Great Britain athletics team for decades he has helped shape the careers of many high profile athletes, most notably in Wales the development of Colin Jackson throughout his competitive career to a World record in the 110mH.

Now coach to Dai Greene, his athlete remains one of Wales' highest performing athletes on the global stage. In 2009 Dai finished 7th in at the Berlin World Championships, and in 2010 he returned to these championships in Daegu and struck stunning Gold.

The year-on-year progress that Dai has made is testament to several factors, including world-class performance support, a supportive network and one of the most influential hurdles coaches in the world - Malcolm Arnold.

Special Recognition

1. Stuart Conner (Gymnastics) - Abertillery

2011 was a bitter sweet year for Stuart Conner as it was the last for his club under the name of Abertillery Gymnastics Club.

Due to the proposed closure of Abertillery Bowls Indoor Bowls Centre (where their purpose built gymnastics facility was also housed) the club needed to acquire new premises.

To make this a reality the club needed to join together with another local club (VGA) in order to secure new premises on Croespennmaen Industrial Estate.

With the potential for a clash of priorities between two established clubs, Stuart Conner chaired meetings to discuss the logistics of running a new club and who will assume positions on the committee. As well as becoming a managing director at the newly merged club, he organised for all the equipment from Abertillery and Ebbw Vale to be transported to Croespennmaen.

For the past forty years Stuart has consistently volunteered 20 coaching hours per week, as well undertaking maintenance, administrative tasks, session preparation, attending competitions, meetings and more. Despite working full time as a senior engineer and having a family, his commitment to gymnastics has never changed.

With the new facility in place, he can now concentrate his efforts on coaching and achieving great results with his gymnasts, including numerous east area champions, Welsh champions, Welsh squad members and British zone squad members. 

2. Gwyndaf Hughes (Sailing) - Pwllheli

Gwyndaf Hughes passed his Royal Yachting Association Senior Instructor qualification late winter at the age of 71.
Up until the 2010 sailing season he had taken an active role in teaching children to sail.

In April 2010, Gwyndaf was diagnosed with cancer. Amazingly, his first question to the doctor was whether he could carry on teaching children to sail. During his treatment, Gwyndaf was still turning every up every Monday and Friday, doing the tallies and maintaining the boats, as well all the paper work.

Thankfully, Gwyndaf received the all clear in November 2010 and resumed his work. 

In a typical week he teaches beginners on Mondays; Tuesday night he oversees the Fevas (junior double handed class); then Friday night he is coaching again. Friday night is usually race night so he is either on the committee boat or coaching off the water.

On top of all the on-water coaching, he also takes an active role in the administrative side of the youth section and undertakes hours of admin and organisational work.

Gwyndaf's efforts and tireless dedication were recognised in November 2011 by the Royal Yachting Association when he received their prestigious Community Award for services to the sport and Pwllheli Sailing Club.