Injuries may have hit Owain Lloyd Hughes’ Commonwealth Games chances – but the Welsh sprinter will be firmly behind his Team Wales teammates this summer, writes Oli Dickson Jefford.
It is now just under 100 days to go until the showpiece event takes place in Birmingham, the only major event in which the home nations compete separately.
And though 100m and 200m star Lloyd-Hughes, from Ystradgynlais, is unlikely to compete as he continues his return from persistent injuries, he knows just how special representing Wales is.
The 20-year-old star: “It’s massive to be honest.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Commonwealths. Instead of running for Great Britain - which is great - but running for your country, running for Wales is massive.
“Sadly I’m not going to be able to do that at the moment with my current situation, but I think anyone that runs, it’s just amazing to run for your country.
“The environment with the athletes is like a family. They’re really brilliant and the coaches are really brilliant as well.
“On that start line you’ve got that Welsh vest on and everyone’s looking at you, you’ve got your teammates on the side cheering you on. It’s amazing actually, It’s a really great experience running for them.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to make the relay team due to injuries but hopefully my Welsh teammates, both female and male, will get the time to get in. I'm definitely looking forward to watching that.”
Lloyd-Hughes’ career is financially supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, set up in 2019 and part of the company’s innovative Pitching In initiative.
Physical issues have plagued the Welsh speedster past couple of seasons, with Lloyd Hughes unable to train or compete to his full ability.
However, a recent return to fitness means he is targeting a strong end of the year with the indoor season next winter his current goal.
He said: “I’m looking forward to it now. It would have been great to get into the Commonwealths and sadly that’s not happening.
“I think just getting fit by the end of the year, putting in a good shift towards the end of the season and looking forward to the indoors of next season, I think that’s where my main aim is.
“It’s been on and off for two years which has been pretty difficult. I’ve had a lot of help from different people and that’s been great. Last year I was able to get back into running and things have been how they should be. It’s going really well now - I’m getting back to sprinting.
“It’s been amazing to be honest. The frustration with athletes when you’re injured, you just want to get back on the track, and get back to doing anything realistically in the gym.
“It just makes such a difference with the psychological side of things as well. It’s good to be back.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.