HE MAY speak with a broad Bolton accent but Craig Pilling has won the first ever Commonwealth Games wrestling medal for Wales.
The 27-year-old opted to represent the country of his mother Angela’s birth and he beat England’s Omar Tafail to win bronze in the -57kg final at Glasgow 2014.
Pilling was disappointed not to have been grappling for gold after he lost his semi-final to Ebikweminomo Welson of Nigeria.
“It means everything,” said Pilling after his 8-5 win in the bronze medal match.
“I went to Delhi last time in 2010 and there was only one bronze.
“I'm very honoured to be the first Welsh wrestling medallist. Hopefully I can inspire kids all over Wales.
“It was a tough fight and I felt I didn’t wrestle too well.
“I thought I could have done a lot better but I managed to come out with the win in the end and it made up for the disappointment of the semi-final.
“I think the nerves got to me a little bit. I know I can wrestle better than that but I’m happy in the end.
“It’s the first wrestling medal we’ve ever got and the Welsh wrestling Association – Sue Jones and Alan Jones – work tirelessly and we’ve made great advances over the last four years.”
It was a dream come true for Pilling and he hopes now to get a chance to go to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“I’ve wrestled since I was 13 and I’ve been waiting for this all my life,” he said.
“I want to carry on training full-time if possible and hopefully go to the next Commonwealth Games in four years.
“Rio is more difficult because there’s not so much of a pathway for Welsh, English and Scottish athletes.
Hopefully we can at least go to the qualifiers but I presume I’ll have to be number one in Great Britain, which I am this year.”
And the Bolton lad was delighted that his family, including Cardiff mum Angela, were all present to see him pick up his medal – the 23rd of the Games for Team Wales.
“My mum Angela is from Cardiff and I represent Wales by choice because they are a politic-free wrestling association and they’ve been absolutely fantastic for me,” said Pilling.
“She was here today along with my dad Neil, my wife Hannah and my coach at Bolton Olympic – Jesse Bradbury, who has worked so hard for me. I’m so happy for them.”