DAVIES SPRINGS BACK FOR CELTIC CLASH

31 Jan 2008

Newport Harrier Steve Davies is hoping that a warm-weather training stint in South Africa will put him in good stead for the Celtic Indoor Cup this weekend (Sunday 3 February 2008.)

The Caldicot runner – who was ranked fourth in the UK rankings last season over 1500m - is flying back from a UKA Training Camp for the Norwich Union GB & NI Team to represent Wales in the annual showdown against teams from Scotland, Ireland and UWIC.

Fresh from training alongside fellow Beijing middle-distance hopefuls Mo Farah, Nick McCormick and Sam Ellis, the 23-year-old is eager to qualify for the Beijing Olympics as well as the World Indoors in Valencia:

"I know I've got to improve my PB significantly and be running around 3.36 minutes - I'm under no illusion it's a huge goal. To make the Olympics would be a huge thrill and my ultimate dream but I don't want to just make the team - I want to perform in Beijing and justify my selection.

"That experience would be fantastic and give me loads to build on for London in 2012, which remains my ultimate goal."

Rugby player-turned-runner Jimmy Watkins is another highlight of the Sunday international. The Welsh indoor record holder over 800m will be pitted against Graeme Oudney who won the Scottish District Indoor Championships earlier this month. The in-form Chris Gowell will also make an appearance on his return from his midweek European outings. Watkins finished sixth in Moscow’s World Indoor Championships in 2006.

Wales’ senior men are captained by Debo Ademuyewo who seized 400m gold at the Welsh Senior Open indoor Championships last weekend.

Ademuyewo – the former training mate of Beijing hopeful Christian Malcolm – must conquer Edinburgh’s Scott Hughson if he is to take the podium top spot as well as the fast improving Irishman Nick Hogan who is fresh from taking a new personal best at last weekend’s Irish Championships.

The trio will be joined by 800m specialist Paul Bradshaw who will be wearing the colours of UWIC.

The men’s 60m will see Wales’ Bradley Williams who will be aiming to make amends for the Welsh Open result. Pipped to the finish line by UWIC’s Ben Simons, he was forced to take second place and will be determined to turn the tables this time around.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Chris Baillie of Scotland is the clear favourite for the 60m hurdles. Ranked second in the UK rankings behind fellow countryman Allan Scott, Baillie will be gunning for gold over Carmarthen’s Steven Boyles who claimed victory at the Welsh Senior Indoor Open Championships last weekend.

Baillie recently relocated from Scotland to Cardiff to train under Benke Blomkvist who has been appointed as Performance Coach for Welsh Athletics.

Clearly not resting on his laurels after setting a new meeting best performance at the Welsh Senior Open Indoors last weekend, triple jumper Gary White is gunning for the All-Comers record on Sunday. The European Under-23 Champion will be representing UWIC and is competing in Slovakia this week which he hopes will help him jump further.

The women’s team is captained by Carmarthen Harrier Heather Jones who won gold in the 60m hurdles at the Welsh Senior Open Indoor Championships. She is joined on the Welsh team by two other gold medallists from last weekend – Gemma Jones over 800m and Melanie Stephenson over 200m.

Scotland’s Susan Scott is looking to guide her team to another Celtic Cup victory and will line up in the 800m. But it is the long jump that is set to steal the show in the women’s events with Ireland’s 20-year-old Kelly Proper in sparkling form. Having broken the Irish record twice in the last few weeks, the mark is now standing at 6.28m. She is joined by Scotland’s record holder Gillian Cooke who has a best of 6.33m. With the All Comers record set at 6.33m, it is very possible that this will be overtaken.

In the under-20s events, Wales take on Ireland and England and is captained by Carmarthen’s Caryl Granville and Cwmbran’s Ieuan Thomas. Granville is supported by the Welsh Athletics Talent Development Academy and will feature in the 400m and 4 x 200m.

The women’s 60m is set to be fiercely contested with Zara George - the Welsh junior and senior champion - taking on Ireland’s Niamh Whelan who won a bronze at the Irish senior championships. But they will both have to work hard as they go up against England’s Rebekah Wilson who boasts a personal best of 7.59 which she laid down earlier this year.

Welsh Junior champion Chris Howe of Cardiff must beat England’s Jordan Huggins, who boasts a personal best of 6.75, if he is to win the under 20’s 60m title.

Penarth hot shot Brett Morse, 18, will also be demonstrating his mettle in the under-20 team. The Welsh junior record holder is more known for his discus talent but has proved he is also a force to be reckoned with in the shot putt.

He might have his work cut out though in the face of Michael Wheeler who, last season, was ranked third – two places above Morse – in the under 20 UK rankings:

"It’s a tough competition but I’d love to go out there and destroy my Welsh junior record. I’d like to throw 17m."

The Celtic Indoor Cup also incorporates a Schools’ International. The cream of under-16 talent from Wales, Ireland and Scotland will go head to head.

While athletes battle it out for podium places, Sport Relief will be busy signing up the nation’s talents to take part in the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile. Following the huge success of the flagship Mile events in 2006, the 2008 Mile will take place on Sunday 16th March in Swansea and Cardiff.

Vicki Spencer, Media and Events Officer for Sport Relief, said, "Taking part in the Sport Relief Mile is not about how fast or how far you can run, but about doing sport, getting healthy and raising money for Sport Relief and while you're doing it! We can't wait for the Celtic Indoor Cup and Schools International where we aim to sign up some fantastically fit athletes to take part in the Mile events!"

The Sainsbury's Sport Relief Mile is back in Wales this Spring with Flagship Mile events being held in both Swansea and Cardiff with many local events taking place across the country from the Isle of Anglesey to Wrexham. Roald Dahl Plas will play host to the Cardiff Mile event while Swansea Milers will be able enjoy fabulous views of marina from the route down at the National Waterfront Museum.

Welsh Milers can choose to do 1, 3 or 6 miles, so can select the distance that is a challenge for them and make sure they get sponsored while they do it.

  • For more information about how the money is spent across Wales and pictures contact: Vicki Spencer or call
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  • Rise to the challenge for Sport Relief by doing the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Mile on Sunday 16th March. Visit www.sportrelief.com/ href="http://www.sportrelief.com/">www.sportrelief.com to find out more
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  • Since its launch in 2002, almost £50 million has been raised through Sport Relief with over £360K being spent across Wales
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