This week Bill Carne popped along to watch the Pembrokeshire Harriers compete in the Gerald Codd Memorial Trophy and chatted to 12 year old William Hughes, already a Welsh champion and winning all three field events at his age to help the Harriers regain the coveted silverware . . .
AT 12 years of age William Hughes was recently runner up in the Welsh Athletics Championships with a personal best throw of 36 metres and 98 centimetres in the javelin as he maintains the sort of progress that has coach Huw Morgan really enthused about his prospects if he can keep it up.
Not content with that terrific performance he also won gold in the shot and bronze in the discus to confirm his right to be considered one of the more promising young field athletes to emerge from the Pembrokeshire Harriers in a long time.
William hails from a very sporting family because his father Peter used to be a very good centre in rugby and his older brothers Oliver and Tom are also involved in the oval ball game as well as athletics. His mum Sarah might rightly be considered his best supporter and regularly joins Peter in watching him compete.
In fact, William started out in athletics when he followed Oliver and Tom to the Pembrokeshire Harriers and after watching for a while decided to join in. Tom was involved in the shot and hurdles whilst Oliver competed in the javelin – and William was only a nipper of nine then and was made very welcome by Peter Freeman and the rest of the coaches.
He tried a whole range of events, including sprints and middle distance but took to the throwing events like a duck to water and has since been working hard, not only at the javelin throwing but his shot putting and discus throwing as well. He likes all three but if pushed says that he regards the javelin as his No 1 athletic event.
When he started he developed the technique using a foam javelin so there was no danger of injury and it wasn’t long before he was using a real 400gm javelin and starting to gain confidence and distance.
Now he trains for the shot every Tuesday evening under the watchful eye of Ron Griffiths and discus afterwards with Jessica Huddleston - and spends Thursday evening working with Huw Morgan at his javelin throwing. Each two-hour session has a warm up followed by 90 minutes of throwing practice and William and Co have good fun but are really put through their paces.
When he started off he was throwing around 26-27 metres but such has been his improvement that he had developed this to 36.33 prior to the Welsh Championships at the Swansea Athletic track.
William had been working very hard prior to the big day and pushed favourite Harry Gauntlet (Cardiff) all the way, achieving a new personal best of 36.98 metres in the process. Then it was on to better success in the shot and although he wasn’t quite himself in the discus he still managed a bronze medal to give him three different colour medals to take back to Pembrokeshire with him!
Just a week later and William was in competition again in the Gerald Codd Memorial Trophy at the smashing facilities at STP School, representing Pembrokeshire Harriers as they took on old rivals Swansea, Neath, Bridgend, Llanelli and Carmarthen in the most popular local tournament held in memory of a great athletics man.
It was a great day for the Harriers as they beat Swansea to regain the trophy and William had another day to remember as he won all three field events and raised his personal best in the javelin, albeit by a single centimetre!
Outside of his athletics, William also enjoys a number of other sports, not least rugby where he plays at inside centre for the STP School team coached by Mr Gelly James and as outside half for the Neyland RFC team for his age group, coached by John Greggain, one of the latter-year stars of the All Blacks who is now putting something back into the sport.
William’s dad Peter is also involved in coaching the Haverfordwest Youth team which includes brother Oliver and the Neyland under 15s where Tom plays.
William also plays cricket for the Neyland team coached by Ian Milsom and plays as a fast bowler for the county team organised Rick Walton.
“We have won most of our matches this season, “William told us, “and I enjoy playing alongside good players like Tom Mansbridge, Lewis Davies and George James.
He played midfield for Neyland AFC’s junior team but it disbanded this season because of a lack of numbers, but could return to football at some time in the future.
Ask Tom about support he has received and he is quick to sing the praises of his parents, plus those who have coached him at the Harriers, especially Huw Morgan.
“They have been great to me,” he said, “and nothing is too much trouble to help me.”
His compliments are reciprocated because Huw Morgan responded:
“That he should do so well is no surprise,” said Huw. “because he has a very strong throwing arm and is ever-ready to learn.
“If I point out a fault in his technique he is quick to take advice on board and practise hard until he puts it right.
“William is also a good example to other field athletes with his determination to succeed.”
We could pay William Hughes no higher tribute and we wish him continued success in athletics and his other sports because this modest young man has not only done brilliantly so far but clearly has a great deal more to offer Pembrokeshire Sport in the forthcoming years!