Swim coach speaks of pride as Newport star takes Paralympic oath

Newport's Liz Johnson was picked to take the athletes' oath at the opening ceremony of London's Paralympic Games

Newport's Liz Johnson was picked to take the athletes' oath at the opening ceremony of London's Paralympic Games

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

A SWIM Wales boss spoke of his pride after Newport's Liz Johnson was picked to take the athletes' oath at the opening ceremony of London's Paralympic Games.

Gold medal-winning Miss Johnson, 26, took centre stage at London's Olympic Stadium on Thursday night as she swore to uphold the spirit of the games, on behalf of all the athletes, at a spectacular opening ceremony which also featured Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Huw Griffiths, disability development manager at Swim Wales, said: "It's amazing to have swimmers like Liz at the games, representing Wales. To have such a big part in the opening ceremony, we're all really proud of Liz and the other swimmers as well."

The Rogerstone native will compete in the 200m individual medley and will defend the 100m breaststroke title she won in Beijing What made that already remarkable feat more amazing was the fact Miss Johnson, who suffers with cerebral palsy, won her gold just 11 days after her 53-year-old mum Bonnie Johnson died of cervical cancer.

This followed a year-long battle with the disease and happened on the day Great BritainÕs team arrived in China.

Miss Johnson, who trains in Manchester, said she had been told of her key role on Thursday, but had kept it secret. "I told two people," she said, praising the roar of the London crowed for ParalympicsGB's entrance Mr Griffiths added: "I think the breast stroke is her best opportunity for a medal, she's one of the best in the world. She's defending champion, European champion and ranked third in the world."

Mr Griffiths said Swim Wales were avoiding making overall medal predict, but said he was confident they would come away "with a few medals."


THE Abergavenny Borough Band will perform in the Olympic Park having won a national competition.

The band will perform on the last day of the Paralympic Games, September 9, as part of the official closing event of the London 2012 Festival.

The band's chairman Andrew Richards said: "Representing Wales and Welsh music groups in a performance at the Olympic Park will be a tremendous achievement for us, and a landmark in the history of our organisation."

The band were given the chance to perform as part of the event after winning The Last Bandstanding, a competition judged by a panel of music industry professionals.

Amateur musicians of all ages and genres battled it out to be one of three acts to win.

Judge and award winning conductor, Charles Hazlewood said: "The Abergavenny Borough Band is a big band as it should be: big sound, big heart, big round of applause."

Abergavenny Borough Band will perform alongside fellow winners The Belles of Three Spires, a female choral group, and Dhol2Dhol, a traditional Indian drum ensemble.

Despite a near 130 year history, Abergavenny Borough Band has a modern approach to traditional brass band music and Welsh West End star Peter Karrie will make a guest appearance with the band at the event.

This isn't the first time that the band has been part of the London 2012 celebrations, having welcomed the Olympic torch to Wales in the run up to the Games.

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