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Richards and Hughes leading the way in Welsh Triathlon Super Series

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THE baby-faced assassin and the girl who beat asthma will bid to continue their dominance of Welsh domestic triathlon competition this weekend.

Luke Richards and Carys Mai Hughes lead the respective men’s and women’s standings in the Welsh Triathlon Super Series, which resumes in Pembrokeshire on Saturday.

Both will be looking to stay clear of the chasers when the series hits Broadhaven with the Bluestone Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon, highlights of which will be shown on S4C.

The leaders’ places at No.1 in the competition isn’t the only thing Richards and Hughes share, either, as both are relative newcomers to the sport.

Richards, 26, is a former Wales karate international who describes himself as a “baby-faced assassin” and only took up triathlon two years ago, while 32-year-old Hughes is even more of a recent convert to the sport and is just 12 months into competition.

Both, though, can firm up their positions as series leaders this weekend, after which there will be just two stages left of the series.

After a 1.5 kilometre swim in stunning St. Bride’s Bay, competitors will cycle 43k along Pembrokeshire roads, before a 10.6k run, the first 3k of which are along the beach and coastal path.

Richards, who competes for Rhondda Triathlon Club, admits: “I’m surprised I’m leading because I have only been involved in triathlon for two years.

“I started doing Ironman contests after watching one in Tenby and turning to my old man and saying, ‘I reckon I could beat these.’

“He told me I hadn’t got a clue how hard it is. So, I thought now I’ll have to show him.

“I did some Ironman events, did okay, and then only entered the Super Series to work on my transitions and see how I managed on short course.

“I came third in Llanelli, finished fourth in the Tata Steel event in Port Talbot, then came fourth in Fishguard. Now, I’m hoping for an even better result in Broadhaven this weekend.”

Richards, who works as a lifeguard at Bronwydd Swimming Pool in Porth, leads the men’s series from Guto Morgans of Carmarthen Triathlon Club, with Team Watt’s David Coates in third.

If Richards maintains his form then he is set to take control of the men’s competition with two final rounds to come in Bala and Llandudno.

“I haven’t done much short course triathlon before, but having had a bit of success, I’m tempted to strip it all back and do just short course stuff next year.

“Some people think this is an old man’s sport but I disagree. I think it’s a great sport for young people.

“I’m 26 but only look 21. I’m the baby-faced assassin! But this is all new to me. I’m just a Valleys boy, having fun.”

In the women’s competition, Hughes – who hails from Strumble Head near Fishguard – is even more of a newcomer but has managed to establish a lead over second place Maddison Shaddick, from Swansea Vale Triathlon club, and Cardiff Triathletes’ Eloise Crowley in third.

Heathwood Triathlon Club’s Hughes was once an asthma sufferer as a teenager, but overcame that to become a decent club runner with Les Croupiers in Cardiff.

It was a trip to Lanzarote – which turned into a six-month stay – that ignited her passion for triathlon.

That was followed by a stint travelling around Spain in a camper van, honing her fitness.

“I did my first triathlon in July of last year,” she says. “It wasn’t even a proper triathlon, it was a sportif.

“It was a last minute thing, but triathlon has now transformed my life.

“I am taking a career break to train full-time. That was also partly due to the pandemic and the changes in my job.

“I just thought I’d take a year out and do something for me, something I wanted to do. I got myself a coach, did all the textbook stuff and piled on the races.

“A big goal was to win the Welsh Super Series. I feel better at the long course stuff. I’m not much of a sprinter, but I can keep going and I’m learning more each time.

“The Welsh Super Series has been part of that development. I consider myself a Pembrokeshire girl and this weekend is a local race, which is quite a treat.”

Watch highlights of the Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon on S4C at 8.00pm on Friday 22 July. Watch the whole series so far on S4C Clic.

Luke Richards

Sport

Preseli poses a challenge for novice crews

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THE END of April will see the popular novice night rally organised by the Teifi Valley Motor Club being held in Pembrokeshire. On the weekend of 27th and 28th April, Rali Bro Preseli will see 75 novice crews tackling the winding and challenging roads that Pembrokeshire has to offer.

Clerks of the Course, father and son Richard and Jason Davies along with Aled Richards have a terrific route lined up for competitors. Starting as usual at the Crymych Mart, the route will appeal to all novice drivers and navigators.

“It will offer a bit of everything. It will be challenging but easy to follow with some whites thrown in the mix. Aled has designed the whole route and we’ve done the donkey work,” said Jason, now in his second year as Clerk of the Course.

As regular competitors, Jason and Richard wanted to give something back to the sport and they enjoy being on the organising side of the things.

Jason, who won the Bro Preseli with his father in 2013, explained: “We’ve competed in the Preseli on several occasions, and we decided to give something back to the sport and that’s why dad and I thought it would be a good idea to help.

“It’s interesting to see how it all comes together and the work involved, and there’s a lot of that,”

He also won the event with Tim Hand in 2016 and was fourth overall in 2019.

Aled Richards, Joint Clerk of the Course, knows the routes of Rali Bro Preseli like the back of his hand having only ever missed it once since its formation in 2003. He’s driven on four of them in 2005 – 2008 with the best result of a 4th place with Arwel Jenkins in the navigator seat.

Aled has been Chief Marshal on Rali Bro Preseli since 2013 before moving on to being Clerk of the Course this year and competitors can look forward to a great event.

Aled told the Herald: “This is the first time I’ve been Clerk of the Course, but we have a good team with Dylan Davies as Chief Marshal and Olwen Davies as Secretary.

“I live some 30 miles away from the actual route, but we’ve been around it twice and I’m confident it will be a good yet challenging night. Some of the whites are currently waterlogged but the farmers have been brilliant and offered to help clear the tracks before the event and we are very grateful.”

The rally, kindly sponsored by Arjay Factors and Home James Taxis, will have four official Spectator Points on the night and the locations will be available at signing on.

The Clerks of the Course and the Teifi Valley Motor Club would like to thank all those who have helped to organise the event – landowners, homes en route, petrol at Brian Llewellyn a’i Ferched, and the start and finish venues – Crymych Mart and the Teifi Waterside Hotel.

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Sport

Herbrandston Clinch Promotion to Division One

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Following a one all draw Tuesday night away to Narberth it confirmed Herbrandston’s promotion to the first division. An amazing achievement for Manger Leigh Galdo and his assistant Timmy Roberts. With a young team and after losing quality players over the summer it’s safe to say promotion wasn’t really ‘on the cards’ for Herbie in August.

On paper nobody would have expected Herbie to challenge at the top of the league. However they started the league as they meant to go on, with an outstanding unbeaten run, which made everyone quickly realise they were not to be underestimated. Galdo has done an excellent job in developing not only a young team, but the players as individuals who’ve matured as the season has developed. While they will enjoy promotion they won’t be relaxing too much as they still hope to lift the second division cup at Bridge Meadow.

Herbie’s boss however found some time in his busy schedule to reflect on promotion and the season to date.


‘Promotion wasn’t really on the radar when we sat down last summer and assessed the situation. With a mass exodus of first team starters, a full rebuild looked on the cards.

However the players we have in this years group are nothing if not resilient. A great start to the campaign meant we had put ourselves in contention early, 13 league games undefeated up to Xmas proved that we had enough to at least contend. There were certainly some tough test in the new year but all of them learning opportunities and a chance for this group of players to grow and mature as a team.

I’m a firm believer that through adversity, that’s where the real development can happen and it certainly seems that way with us at the moment with many of our young players now looking battle tested.

Humbled and armed with those lessons we’re looking now to finish the season strong. Back into the 1st Division has been the club’s ambition now for quite a few years and after finally achieving that after many close seasons in doing so we can turn our focus to trying to add some silverware in the 2nd Division cup.

A very tough task with the quality of teams left in the competition. But a challenge we embrace and look forward too. We’ll stay in the fight to the very end and see what destiny awaits us. ‘Up the Pickles’’

Congratulations to everyone involved in the club on promotion. A club that’s setup off the field and at junior level really deserves division one football. We also wish Herbie the best of luck for the cup too.

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News

Micky Beckett, Pembrokeshire’s Olympic hopeful, wins big in Palma!

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Micky Beckett, the pride of Solva and a stalwart of the British Sailing Team, once again etched his name in the annals of sailing history with a resounding victory at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma last week, marking his third consecutive triumph at this illustrious event. The 29-year-old maestro showcased his dominance in the men’s dinghy class amidst stiff competition from a formidable fleet of 193 boats, clinching the title with a day to spare.

His gold-medal feat spearheaded a triumphant campaign for the British contingent, as John Gimson and Anna Burnet secured bronze in the Nacra 17 category, while the rising star Matilda Nicholls clinched her debut senior-level medal, a bronze in the ILCA 6 class.

Entering the pivotal double points medal race, Beckett held an unassailable lead atop the leaderboard, a testament to his unparalleled skill and unwavering determination. Despite the comfort of his position, Beckett refused to relent, clinching a second-place finish in the decisive race and ultimately sealing victory with an imposing 44-point margin.

Reflecting on his remarkable achievement, Beckett humbly acknowledged the significance of his third consecutive triumph, stating, “I’ve been trying all week not to think about the fact that if I won this event it would be three in a row, but now it’s real and it’s pretty cool.” His sentiments echoed a blend of confidence and humility, underscoring the arduous journey that led to his triumph.

With his sights set on the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics, Beckett exuded a mixture of confidence and determination, aware of the challenges that lie ahead. “All the top guys will be following their own plans to build up to this summer, but I have to say that beating them is a nice confidence boost,” Beckett remarked, encapsulating the competitive spirit that drives him towards excellence.

Despite his past setbacks in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Beckett remains undaunted, poised to make his mark on the global stage in Marseille, where he aims to transcend mere participation and carve his legacy amongst the world’s elite ILCA 7 sailors. With a European title in 2021 and a world silver in 2023 adorning his resume, Beckett’s journey is a testament to perseverance and unwavering dedication to his craft.

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