Commonwealth success is only the start – Phillips
WALES’ most successful Commonwealth Games to date will provide a springboard for athletes to succeed at Olympic and Paralympic level, says the team’s chef de mission, Nicola Phillips.
Team Wales won 36 medals – including 10 golds – to match their record medal haul and golds won at previous Games.
Phillips told BBC Wales Sport she believes this achievement is just a beginning for many younger athletes.
“The future looks very bright,” she said.
“When you look at the number of teenagers we had in the squad, those teenagers were fearless. They weren’t put off by being in a field of world champions or world record holders.
“If they keep on with the personal bests, the Welsh records we had, there’s no reason why they can’t continue to compete with the best in the world in the way they have here.”
Wales’ historic 10 golds came across seven different sports.
Lauren Price became the first Welsh woman to win a boxing gold – while both Elinor Barker and Hollie Arnold added Commonwealth golds to their Olympic/Paralympic and world titles.
The youngest medal winner was 17-year-old gymnast Latalia Bevan and the oldest was lawn bowls bronze medallist Gilbert Miles – who turns 73 this year.
“Our genuine target was to get as many personal bests as possible,” Phillips continued.
“That’s the only thing the athletes can control. That was something we always hoped would translate into medals.
“I’ve been to many Commonwealth Games and Wales always has a good team spirit.
“But we’re getting comments about our athletes’ sportsmanship, the way they engage with the public and volunteers. I’m as proud of that as I am about their performances.”
At the previous two overseas Games – Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 – Wales won 19 medals and three golds.
They sent a much bigger team to Glasgow 2014 and won 36 medals, but only five golds.
Phillips says the huge improvement in 2018 is thanks to a focus on sports science and youth development by individual sports back in Wales.
“Over the years - since those performances of 19 medals - we now know much more about how to prepare better,” she continued.
“The science has helped us. Performance directors and coaches are taking on board the work being done in universities and translating that into coaching practice.
“What we did is create the environment in which the team could support each other and feel comfortable.”
Meanwhile UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl hopes England’s netball success at the Commonwealth Games will boost participation levels.
Tracey Neville’s side won a dramatic gold medal as Helen Housby’s lastgasp goal earned a 52-51 win over favourites Australia.
Three Commonwealth bronze medals were England’s previous best performance in the sport.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Nicholl said: “It’s a sport that’s been growing and doing incredibly well but this is just a huge moment.
“This is a massive showcase to inspire young women to get involved in the sport.”
Netball is funded by Sport England rather than UK Sport, and Nicholl explained her organisation’s commitment to Olympic and Paralympic sports.
“UK Sport funds UK GB level athletes,” she added.
“Olympic and Paralympic focus netball is not an Olympic sport, it’s an England sport and if we put money into England netball we’d have to fund Scottish netball and Welsh netball and Northern Ireland netball.
“The National Lottery funding is the fuel that supports the whole of the UK sporting system.
“The home nations received that investment and invested in increasing participation and developing talent, and our unique role is (to ensure) that delivers at Olympic and Paralympic level.”
> Lauren Price savours the moment she collected Commonwealth gold