SPORT Wales chief executive Sarah Powell says the nation should be “exceptionally proud” of the record 36-medal haul at Glasgow 2014, writes Andrew Penman.
After a nightmare build-up to the Commonwealth Games with injuries, failed drugs tests and enforced absences, it turned into a great Games for Wales with cycling star Geraint Thomas rounding it off with a glorious gold on the final day.
The team surpassed the target of 27 medals and even attained the ‘stretch target’ of 35 with a record number of podium finishes - five more than in the Manchester Games of 2002.
“I’m exceptionally happy and very proud at the moment,” said Powell.
“All the athletes have put in such a lot of hard work, as have the coaches and support staff.
“This has been in the making for four years but on the day it takes exceptional athletes to succeed and I think that’s what we have in Wales.”
On the medal targets, Powell said: “I don’t want to sound arrogant but we expected to achieve the 27 medals. We had a tough run-in but we’ve worked very hard towards this.
“We’re a small nation of three million people and we’ll continue to strive to achieve.”
As for a favourite moment of the past 11 days in Scotland, Powell added: “It’s very difficult to pick a favourite moment and I’m going to have to pick two.
“For Frankie Jones to win gold in her last ever performance, after five silvers, was something special.
“What the rhythmic girls have achieved is unbelievable because the slightest mistake costs you a medal and they performed day after day.
“And the other was Daniel Jervis, coming back to win a bronze medal in the 1500m in the pool in his first Commonwealth Games was phenomenal.”
The worst moments were easier to pick for Powell – the failed drugs tests for Rhys Williams and Gareth Warburton.
“It was a shock to everyone and there is a review going on now so we’ll find out what happened,” she said.
“We’re disappointed for the athletes involved more than anything because we know how hard they’ve worked and they are devastated.
“We need to get to the bottom of it and find out why it happened.
“But when I went into the village to speak to our athletes they weren’t focusing on that, they were concentrating on what they needed to do to meet their individual targets.
“I think they’ve pulled together superbly as a group and gone far and above what we expected of them.”