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MAGIC JOHNSON

25 May 2005

Martin Johnson with Commonwealth Games athletesNext season, the green pastures of Twickenham and Welford Road will be devoid of the rousing rallying calls from a certain Captain Marvel - a figurehead who has led both club and country with such zeal and vigour to unprecedented success in his staggering 500 career starts.

Martin Johnson CBE may indeed have hung up his boots on his distinguished playing career but British rugby’s man mountain now has his sights set on assisting the Welsh sporting industry to reach the peak of its own burgeoning potential.

Chief Executive of the Sports Council for Wales Dr. Huw Jones today welcomed the rugby legend and his commercial partners HP to the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff to meet Welsh athletes already in the throws of vital preparations for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Olympic bronze medal winning swim star David Davies (Barry), badminton’s Richard Vaughan (Llanbradach) and triathlon talent Anneliese Heard (Newport) were on hand at the national centre’s sports science laboratory to relay how modern technology is benefiting them as they endeavour to bring back the bullion from next year’s Games.

Davies, 20 highlights how modern technology has helped put him at the forefront of his sport.

"Much of my success in no doubt is down to the lottery funded support of the Sports Council for Wales’ Élite Cymru scheme and UK Sport’s World Class performance plan which provide crucial funding, psychological and sports science support.

"I have access to the latest in modern technology and expert advice which were all vital ingredients as I honed my performances in preparation for my Olympic campaign. Technological support will also form a fundamental part of my preparations for the Commonwealth Games next year."

Following 16 years of first-class rugby, Johnson - one of the most influential rugby captains of all time - bows out of the game with a medals cabinet creaking under the weight of his own achievements.

However, both he and HP are quick to advocate the role that the use of technology in sport can play in the quest for success at all levels.

HP’s Imaging and Printing Business Development Director, Peter Urey says:

"HP is privileged to have been invited to bring Martin Johnson to the Welsh Institute of Sport. Martin is a great advocate of the use of technology and the role it can play in being successful in sport.

"The application of technology can benefit all sports, clubs and sports organisations from the grassroots at local level, right up to the major international bodies and teams. HP is delighted to partner Martin in the campaign to promote technology to sports."

Chief Executive of the Sports Council for Wales, Dr. Huw Jones added:

"We are delighted that Martin has taken the time to tour the excellent facilities we have to offer Wales’ amateur and professional sports stars at all levels here at the Welsh Institute of Sport. He has been an immense driving force behind the British Lions’ success and is an inspiration to all around him."

Following his visit to the Welsh Institute of Sport, Johnson took to the stage at City Hall, Cardiff to lead an enthralled audience of leading sports Performance Directors and coaches from across Wales in a presentation on leadership, captaincy and teamwork.

Later in the evening, Johnson was master of proceedings once again at the Welsh Sports Association’s ‘Creating Winners’ presentation. Here he revealed to the gathered throng of Wales’ leading businessmen and women, the magic in his motivational techniques that have helped inspire those playing under his captaincy to mammoth success.

His achievements have been impressive and plentiful. He has led his country to a grand slam, is the only man to captain the British Lions twice, holds a string of titles with the Tigers including two European Cup triumphs and led England to an unforgettable victory Down Under at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

The rugby world bid farewell to its most colossal presence at this month’s Twickenham tussle where the Leicester Tigers and London Wasps battled it out for Zurich Premiership glory. A final victory may have eluded Johnson’s parting parade but his winning roll of honour speaks volumes of the impact he has had on the game, his team-mates and opponents alike.