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28 Apr 2006

Rhys Williams2006 has started in spectacular style for Bridgend athletics star Rhys Williams. His stunning fourth place and Welsh record breaking time in the 400m Hurdles at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games has earned the 22-year-old a promotion to the World Class Performance Pathway funded from the Lottery by UK Sport and administered by UK Athletics.

Williams makes the leap from the Sports Council for Wales’ lottery funded Elite Cymru scheme and sees him join fellow Welsh stablemates Tim Benjamin, Tanni Grey Thompson and Nicole Cooke at the dizzy heights of the Podium Programme - previously known as the Performance Programme but recently renamed by UK Sport.

Born into a famous Welsh sporting family, Williams had little choice but to be an excellent athlete. Initially toying with rugby and swimming – following father JJ into the Welsh Rugby Under-18s and swimming alongside Olympic hero David Davies – it was only at 16 that Williams discovered athletics.

Pulling on his red vest for Team Wales at last month’s Commonwealth Games, he finished fourth in the 400m hurdles final, smashing Matt Elias’ Welsh record (49.11) with a time of 49.09.

And he is delighted that his consistent high performances have been rewarded with the elevation to the upper echelons of UK Athletics:

"This is a massive boost to my career. I will have access to the best medical and physio support possible who will be able to concentrate on keeping me fit and healthy while I concentrate on getting faster over the hurdles.

"I’m extremely grateful to the support I’ve had from the Elite Cymru scheme and the Sports Council for Wales. They’ve managed to keep me in one piece to achieve all that I have up until now and I couldn’t have done it without them. I’ve got a big hunger for this and I can’t wait to go on to bigger and better things."