Welsh athletes double UKA funding spots

Wales has doubled the number of athletes receiving top tier funding from UK Athletics after a medal-winning year for our track and field stars.

After a successful Commonwealth Games in Delhi which saw a return of five medals, two more than brought home from Melbourne 2006, and all 23 athletics competitors reach their respective finals, the sport in Wales has received another boost in its preparations for London 2012.

Two of those medallists, Christian Malcolm and Rhys Williams, have had their 2010 success rewarded with spots on the highest level of UKA's funding programme, joining Team Wales teammate Dai Greene and other top UK athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu.

European Championship silver and Commonwealth Games bronze medals have ensured that 31 year-old Malcolm has had his funding reinstated after falling off the list in October 2009, while Williams' performances this year have seen him progress to the increased funding from the development programme.

Brian Davies, Sport Wales Institute Manager, said:

"The increase in the number of Welsh athletes now being supported by UKA is an encouraging step forward for the sport in Wales and we're delighted for those athletes, and their coaches, that have had their achievements recognised. 
It is now vital that we use this opportunity to work in more detail and more collaboratively with Welsh Athletics and Disability Sport Wales so that we can propel an even greater number of athletes to top level funding in the lead up to London 2012 and Glasgow 2014."

Perhaps even more encouraging is the inclusion of more Welsh athletes to the development level of funding.
After a year which has seen him smash the Welsh and British junior heptathlon records during the U23 internationals and reach 9th place in the world in the all time rankings for junior heptathlon, it should come as no surprise that Bridgend's David Guest has been considered worthy of development level funding.

Owain Taylor is another new addition to the programme and makes the Federation of Disability Sport Wales' contingent up to six - contributing to over half of the Welsh athletes involved.

Jon Morgan, Executive Director of the Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW) said:

"It is encouraging for us to see that the presence of Welsh disability athletes included in UKA's future plans has increased. The success of the disability athletics programme in Wales is built on not only the commitment of the athletes but also the continuous support they receive from the talented coaches and support staff through the Disability Sport Wales Academy system."

"Thrower Owain Taylor is an incredible example of how the system is working in Wales. After being spotted through a community talent ID programme in Cardiff just 12 months ago, he has developed through the academy to now being part of UKA's development programme."

Brett Morse, James Ball, Aled Davies. Daniel Lucker and Delhi 2010 silver medallist Jenny McLoughlin have all, yet again, been rewarded for their efforts and will continue to be supported by UKA at the development level, while Nathan Stephens will remain at the highest level of funding.

Matt Newman, CEO of Welsh Athletics, said:

"Welsh Athletics is delighted that UKA has recognised the exceptional series of results by Welsh athletes at this year's European, Commonwealth and World Junior Championships. We now have a greater chance of seeing Welsh athletes wearing GB vests at the London 2012 Olympics."

"The wave of optimism generated by the team's performance in Delhi has now been rewarded with UKA's selection. The future is looking bright for track and field athletics in Wales."