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In-depth: Cardiff’s sporting success

Rugby is the game that often comes to mind when you think of sport in Cardiff. But the capital is not just about scrums and tackles, Cardiff is also making a name for itself in the world of football, cricket, athletics and a range of water sports.

In the last few years, the city has notched up a fine reputation as a sporting capital thanks to hosting a variety of major events.  There are also several Welsh sports stars that have helped raise the city’s profile. So what has Cardiff got to offer sports fans?

Rugby is not the only sport that Cardiff is known for (Wales V Ireland 2011). Picture credit: Georgia Hathaway

Rugby is not the only sport that Cardiff is known for (Wales V Ireland 2011). Picture credit: Georgia Hathaway

Recently, the capital has been successful in securing the prestigious title of European Capital of Sport 2o14. The award recognised the city’s position as a key capital city of Europe, paving the way to host further global sports events in the future. Councillor Derrick Morgan said the award further endorses the city as a major sports destination.

 Officials made the announcement from the European Capitals of Sports Association at an event held in Valencia. It was recognised that Cardiff had firmly established itself as a leading city for sport, offering state of the art stadium and facilities including the Millennium Stadium, SWALEC Stadium and Cardiff International Sport Stadium.

President of European Capital for Sport, Gian Francesco Lupattelli said: “The award for Cardiff is well deserved and it can now join a growing network of European capitals and cities.” The award complements the city’s vesting sport event portfolio. Previously, Cardiff has played host to many national and international events, including the Ashes, Rugby World Cup and FA Cup finals, helping to secure a worldwide audience of millions.

Marathon host

And major sporting success in Cardiff doesn’t end there. Recently, Cardiff has been chosen to host the prestigious IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in 2014. The marathon will be another feather in the cap of Cardiff’s sporting success, attracting the world’s best endurance athletes to the city in the build up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.   

The leader of Cardiff Council councillor Heather Joyce said, “I am thrilled that Cardiff has been selected to host this significant and well respected feature in the athletics calendar which will attract competitors and spectators from all over the world.”

Many people believe that the race will promote Cardiff to an international audience. “This is a coup for Cardiff and Wales,” said Welsh Athletics CEO Matt Newman. “It is a major achievement for a small nation like Wales to be able to win an IAAF major championship event,” Newman added.

 The first Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones said that the achievement was an example of what can happen when Cardiff promotes itself as a country.  He said, “This is what it’s all about. Making sure Wales has a high profile around the world.”

 The year 2014 looks set to be a show-stopping year for sporting events in Cardiff. A huge number of national and international events such as the international cricket, the Heineken Cup Final and the UEFA Super Cup Final will be staged in the capital, while local communities will also be encouraged to stage events to boost sports participation and give everyone a chance to get involved. Executive member for sport, leisure and culture, councilor Nigel Howells commented, “We should be both proud of the recognition and excited by what the future holds for sporting opportunities in the capital.”

Sports stars

Its not just sporting events that have raised Cardiff’s sporting profile, the players have also become as prolific. When you think of iconic Welsh rugby stars, you may think of legends like Neil Jenkins, Tomos Shanklin and Gwyn Jones but now there are a few more names to be added to the list. In December 2013, Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland was named UK Coach of the Year and was also named High Performance Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards 2013. Welsh rugby player Leigh Halfpenny recently won Welsh Sports Personality of the Year and has been shortlisted for the prestigious IRB Player of the Year award. He also has a chance of winning the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday 15 December.

There are other Welsh sports stars that have made a name for themselves in the sporting ndustry. Discus ace Brett Morse, from Penarth, competed at this year’s Welsh Athletics International in July. Meanwhile, Welsh footballer Gareth Bale completed a world record £85 million move to Real Madrid in September 2013, becoming the most expensive player in history. Not to mention the successes of former marathon world record holder Steve Jones and Olympic wheelchair racer Tanni-Grey Thompson.

So when it comes to sport in Cardiff, look beyond the egg-shaped ball and rugby goalposts. The city has a wealth of sporting events and sports stars to offer. 

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