Welsh Athletics boasts a long and proud history of success and achievement. Great athletes wore the national colours for more than a century and brought Wales immense recognition. Here are some of the most important milestones in the history of our sport in the Principality.
1860 John Chambers holds a sports meeting at Hafod House, Aberystwyth - probably the first record of an athletics meeting being held in Wales.
1865 Chambers organises “athletic sports” at Aberystwyth.
1871 St. David’s College Lampeter and Llandovery College hold athletics “sports” meetings.
1875 Newport Athletic Club formed and holds “athletic sports.”
1880 Newport AC represented at the formation of the AAA at The Randolph Hotel, Oxford - Chambers also there.
1882 Roath (Cardiff) Harriers formed. They amalgamated with Birchgrove (Cardiff) Harriers in 1968 to form Cardiff AAC.
1893 First Welsh track championships held as part of an open sports meeting. Just 2 events held - 100 yards and mile won by Charles Thomas (Reading AC) and Hugh Fairlamb (Roath).
1894 First Welsh Cross Country Championships held at Ely Racecourse Cardiff won by Hugh Fairlamb.
1896 Welsh Cross Country Association formed.
1896 Newport Harriers formed. They are the oldest surviving club in Wales.
1903 Wales compete in the first International Cross Country Championships in Scotland. This race is the forerunner of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
1906 Wales stages the International Cross Country Championships for the first time at the now defunct Caerleon Racecourse.
1906 Wallis Walters is the first Welsh athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. He takes part in the 110m hurdles at the intercalated (interim) Games in Athens.
1907 First full Welsh Track and Field Championships held in Newport.
1911 Caerleon Racecourse holds the International Cross Country Championships for the second time.
1912 David Jacobs becomes the first Welsh athlete to win an Olympic gold medal when he is part of Britain’s 4 x 100m winning team in Stockholm.
1920 Welshmen Cecil Griffiths and John Ainsworth-Davis win Olympic gold medals as part of Britain’s 4 x 400m team in Antwerp.
1921 The International Cross Country Championships are held again at Caerleon Racecourse.
1927 The International Cross country Championships returns to Caerleon Racecourse.
1929 First Welsh track and field representative match - against Achilles at St. Helens, Swansea.
1930 Reg Thomas wins Wales’ first ever individual gold medal at a major athletics championship - the inaugural Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Hamilton, Ontario. Thomas ran for England as Wales did not send an athletics team. Hawarden-born Howard Ford (shot and discus) also in England team.
1933 The International Cross Country Championships are held again at Caerleon Racecourse.
1934 First Welsh marathon championships held on a course from Pyle to Swansea.
1934 Swansea’s Cyril Cupid runs 9.8 in Newport - the first Welshman to run under 10.0 for the 100 yards.
1934 First Welsh athletics team at the Empire Games at London’s White City.
1938 Jim Alford of Roath Harriers emulates Reg Thomas and wins the Empire Games gold for the mile in Sydney.
1939 Cardiff’s Ely Racecourse is the scene for the International Cross Country Championships with Wales’ Sam Palmer finishing third - the highest position of a Welshman until John Merriman’s third place in 1960 also equalled by Steve Jones in 1984.
1946 Welsh Secondary Schools AAA formed.
1947 First Welsh Schools Track and Field Championships held at Taff Vale Park, Pontypridd.
1948 Welsh AAA formed and becomes the first body to govern the sport of track & field athletics throughout Wales. Prior to this the various regions and counties of Wales were controlled by the areas of the AAA (of England).
1948 Carmarthen and District Harriers formed.
1948 Jim Alford appointed first Welsh National Coach.
1948 First England v Wales competition at Abertillery. England won by 31 pts to 11.
1948 Tom Richards wins the marathon silver medal in the Olympics at Wembley – Wales’ first individual Olympics athletics medal. Ken Jones also takes a silver medal in Britain’s 4 x 100m relay team.
1951 The International Cross Country Championships return to Caerleon Racecourse for the last time.
1951 Wales’ first purpose-built athletics facility - Maindy Stadium, Cardiff opens and becomes the home of Welsh athletics.
1951 Welsh Women’s AAA formed.
1952 First Welsh Women’s championships held. Only 8 senior events held and just 3 for juniors.
1954 First full track and field international with a match against Ireland at Maindy Stadium won by the home team by 94 pts to 87.
1954 Wrexham AAC formed.
1955 Aberystwyth AC formed.
1955 First North Wales Track and Field championships held at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay.
1958 Cardiff’s Pontcanna Fields is the venue for the International Cross Country Championships.
1958 The North Wales Cross Country League – Wales’ first cross country league – formed.
1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff with John Merriman taking the 6 miles silver medal for Wales in an epic tussle with Australia’s Dave Power.
1958 A new track & field facility at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay opens with a match between Wales and Nigeria.
1958 Nos Galan road races in Mountain Ash inaugurated.
1959 First Welsh Games held at Maindy Stadium incorporating an international match, Wales v Pakistan. Wales won 38pts to 33.
1959 First schools track and field international match between Wales and Scotland at Colwyn Bay. This fixture led to the now well established schools international match between all four home countries.
1959 The Taff Street Dash - a 100 yard sprint along Taff Street, Pontypridd first held.
1959 New 6 lane cinder track opens at Y Pant Secondary School, Talbot Green.
1960 John Merriman confirms his status as one of Britain’s finest middle distance runners by finishing third in the International Cross Country Championships in Glasgow.
1960 Australia’s Herb Elliott runs in the Welsh Games at Maindy only eleven days after he had devastated the world’s best middle runners when winning the Rome Olympic Games 1,500m in a new world record time.
1960 New 6 lane cinder track opened at Bargoed, with Peter Radford, fresh from his Olympic 100m bronze medal one of the star athletes competing.
1961 Ron Pickering arrives in Wales as Jim Alford’s replacement as national coach.
1961 Neath Harriers formed.
1961 First Welsh Schools national cross country championships held at Newtown.
1962 Swansea Harriers formed by a group of former members of Cockett Boys’ Club.
1962 20 year old Lynn Davies narrowly misses the bronze medal in the Perth Commonwealth Games but sets a UK record of 7.72m for 4th place. The Welsh sprint relay team of David England, Ron Jones, Berwyn Jones and Nick Whitehead take bronze.
1962 Connah’s Quay track opens and hosts the North Wales Championships.
1963 Ron and Berwyn Jones are part of the British 4 x 110 yards relay team that sets a new world record of 41.0 at London’s White City.
1963 The Pontypool & District Cross Country League formed. It was to become the Gwent League the following year.
1964 Lynn Davies wins Wales’ first and only individual Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in taking the long jump title.
1965 Cardiff City Council builds special long jump facility for the competition between Olympic Champion Lynn Davies and world record holder Ralph Boston at the Welsh Games, at Maindy Stadium. Boston’s winning jump of 8.18m still stands as the Welsh all-comers record to this day.
1965 Tony Harris becomes the first Welshman to run a mile in under 4 minutes (3:58.96).
1966 Lynn Davies takes the Commonwealth Games long jump title in Kingston, Jamaica and the European long jump gold medal in Budapest to become the first Welsh athlete to win gold medals at the three major athletics gatherings.
1966 Future double Olympic Champion Kip Keino wins the Morley Mile at The Welsh Games. He lowered Herb Elliott’s Welsh all-comers’ record, set in the 1958 Empire Games with 3mins 57.6.
1966 Peter Lay succeeds Ron Pickering as Welsh National Coach.
1967 The International Cross Country Championships are held in Barry with a women’s event held for the first time.
1967 Welsh Women’s Cross Country Association formed.
1967 Lynn Hughes of Bridgend clocks 3 hrs 58mins 53.2 secs. to set a new world record for the 40 miles track race at Maindy Stadium.
1968 Lynn Davies long jumps 8.23m in Berne to set a UK record which was to stand for 19 years and remains the Welsh record 42 years later in 2010.
1968 Brecon AC formed.
1969 British League (initially called National League) commences with Cardiff AAC competing in division one.
1969 Pilot Welsh Track and Field League is held.
1969 Welsh Women’s AAA hold their first full match against the Midland Counties in Swansea.
1969 Welsh track and field championships go metric - and move to Cwmbran after 18 years at Maindy.
1970 First Welsh indoor championships held at RAF St. Athan.
1970 Lynn Davies retains his Commonwealth long jump title in Edinburgh.
1972 Cardiff’s Bob Maplestone becomes the first British athlete to run a mile indoors under 4 minutes when he clocks 3:59.5secs in San Diego.
1972 Lynn Davies retires after winning five gold medals at major international athletics championships.
1972 Malcolm Thomas wins the (English) National Cross Country title in a blizzard in Sutton Coldfield to become the first Welsh athlete to win this prestigious race.
1972 Wales compete in the first Schools’ Cross Country International in Scotland. This race is the forerunner of the SIAB Cross Country International.
1973 Wales celebrate their first overseas senior track and field international with a win against Portugal in Lisbon.
1974 Men’s and women’s cross country associations merge.
1974 Ruth Martin-Jones becomes the first Welsh woman to win a medal at a major Games by taking the Commonwealth long jump bronze in Auckland New Zealand.
1974 Malcolm Arnold appointed Welsh National Coach.
1974 Cardiff AAC win their third successive British Athletics League title, also winning the inaugural League Cup competition.
1974 Cardiff AAC take the AAA marathon team title.
1974 New all-weather surface at Cwmbran in use as Wales take on Canada.
1974 Deeside Amateur Athletic Club formed.
1975 Tony Simmons emulates Malcolm Thomas and wins the (English) National Cross Country title.
1975 Cardiff AAC become the first British club to compete in the European Clubs Track & Field Championships, finishing 5th in Liege.
1976 Chepstow Racecourse hosts the International (now World) Cross Country Championships - the last time the event is held in Wales. Welshman Tony Simmons finishes second for England.
1976 Abergele Harriers formed.
1976 Colwyn Bay AC formed, although there may have been an earlier club of that name.
1978 Berwyn Price wins Commonwealth Games 110m hurdles gold medal in Edmonton, Canada.
1979 Cwmbran stages the women’s European Cup semi final.
1979 Barry Harriers become Barry & Vale Harriers.
1980 Morfa Stadium initially known as City of Swansea Athletics Stadium opens.
1980 Michelle Probert (later Scutt) becomes the first Welsh woman to win an Olympic medal – a 4 x 400m bronze in Moscow.
1980 Amman Valley Harriers formed.
1981 Les Croupiers Running Club formed.
1982 Kirsty McDermott (later Wade) wins her first Commonwealth title at 800m in Brisbane – the first Welshwoman to win a Commonwealth gold medal.
1982 Steve Barry wins the Commonwealth Games 30k walk in Brisbane and is crowned BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.
1983 Bridgend AC formed out of members of Bridgend YMCA AC.
1983 The Welsh Castles Relay - from Caernarfon to Cardiff - organised by Les Croupiers Running Club is held for the first time after a pilot race in 1982 with 6 teams taking part. 59 are expected to run in 2010. The race covers 20 stages and 210 miles over 2 days.
1983 Cardiff AAC win the (English) women’s road relay title.
1984 Cwmbran stages the UK Championships and Olympic Trials for 10,000m, decathlon & heptathlon.
1984 Gareth Brown becomes the first Welshman to run a sub 4 minute mile on Welsh soil at the Welsh Games in Swansea.
1984 Angela Tooby wins the race and leads Cardiff AAC to victory in the European Clubs’ Cross Country Championships in Italy.
1984 Steve Jones finishes third in the World Cross Country Championships in New York.
1984 Steve Jones sets a new world record for the marathon in Chicago with 2:08.05.
1984 Shaun Pickering sets a new Welsh hammer record of 68.64m which still stands after 26 years.
1985 Angela Tooby wins the (English) National women’s cross country title.
1985 Steve Jones wins in Chicago again with a new UK record of 2:07.13 – just one second outside the record set earlier in the year by Carlos Lopes. Jones’ time still stands as the UK record a quarter of a century later.
1986 Kirsty Wade takes both the 800 and 1,500m titles at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games to become the first Welsh athlete to take two titles at a single major Games.
1986 Colin Jackson wins the first of his worldwide gold medals by taking the world junior 110m hurdles title in Athens.
1986 Steve Jones wins a record 9th Welsh senior cross country title – a record which still stands in 2010.
1986 New synthetic track at Queensway International Stadium, Wrexham (the first in North Wales) opened.
1986 Barry 40 mile track race first held (the longest running ultra race in the UK).
1987 Wales’ last appearance as a separate team in the World Cross Country Championships in Warsaw. Subsequently the home nations competed as a British team.
1987 Full time office established by Welsh AAA at Morfa Stadium, Swansea.
1988 Brenda Currie becomes Wales’ first professional athletics administrator based at Morfa Stadium.
1988 Penarth & Dinas runners formed.
1988 Swansea Harriers win the AAA 6 stage road relay.
1988 Venissa Head wins her 25th Welsh title by taking the shot and discus double for the 10th successive year.
1989 Cardiff’s new athletics stadium at Leckwith opens.
1989 Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay track upgraded to an 8 lane all weather synthetic surface.
1990 Athletics Association of Wales (AAW) formed covering all athletics associations in Wales – the first of the home nations to have a single body covering all athletics disciplines.
1990 Kay Morley wins Commonwealth Games gold at 100m hurdles in Auckland.
1990 Colin Jackson wins both the Commonwealth and European 110m hurdles titles.
1991 Swansea Harriers win the AAA 6 stage road relay for the second time.
1993 Colin Jackson sets a new world record of 12.91 for the 110m hurdles and becomes world champion in Stuttgart. He retained sole ownership of the record until Xiang Liu of China equalled it in 2004.
1994 Colin Jackson sets a new world record of 7.30 secs for the 60m hurdles in Sindelfingen, Germany, which still stands in 2010.
1994 Swansea Harriers win the AAA 12 stage road relay.
1994 At the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, Neil Winter takes the pole vault and Colin Jackson retains his 110m hurdles title. Paul Gray takes third behind Jackson to give Wales two athletics medals in the same event for the first time.
1994 Colin Jackson takes his second European 110m hurdles title in Helsinki.
1994 Malcolm Arnold is appointed UK Director of Coaching after 20 years as Welsh National Coach and is replaced by Phil Banning.
1995 Fell and Mountain Running in Wales become part of AAW.
1997 Jamie Baulch and Iwan Thomas win gold medals as part of Britain’s 4 x 400m team in the 1997 Athens world championships.
1998 Christian Malcolm wins world junior 100 and 200m titles.
1998 Iwan Thomas wins both European and Commonwealth 400m titles; and Thomas and Jamie Baulch take gold medals as part of Britain’s 4 x 400m team European title winning team.
1998 Deeside College Stadium Connah’s Quay all - weather track opens.
1998 Colin Jackson takes his third successive European 110m hurdles title in Budapest.
1998 Shaun Pickering wins the Welsh shot title to record his 19th Welsh title win – a record which still stands in 2010.
1999 Colin Jackson wins his second World 110m hurdles title in Seville and also takes the world indoor 60m hurdles crown in Japan.
1999 Jamie Baulch wins world indoor 400m title in Japan.
2000 AAW moves offices to Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.
2000 National Indoor Athletics Centre (NIAC) at University Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) established.
2002 Colin Jackson retires after dominating world sprint hurdling for 10 years winning 10 gold medals at major international athletics championships.
2004 The Swansea indoor athletics facility opens.
2005 North Wales Indoor Athletic Centre at Deeside College opened.
2006 Swansea’s new outdoor track & field facility opens at Sketty Lane.
2007 Catherine Dugdale wins a record 8th consecutive Welsh cross country title.
2007 Welsh Athletics Ltd becomes the governing body of the sport of athletics in Wales and takes offices in Leckwith Stadium and Matt Newman is appointed its first full time Chief Executive Officer.
2007 Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Britain's most successful Paralympian, retires after winning 16 medals as a wheelchair racer from five Paralympics, including 11 gold’s, as well as six London Marathons.
2007 Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame inaugurated with Lynn Davies, Colin Jackson, Steve Jones, John Disley and Tanni Grey-Thompson as the first inductees.
2008 The new Cardiff International Sports Stadium opens across the road from the old stadium in Leckwith and becomes the new headquarters of Welsh Athletics Ltd.
2008 Kirsty Wade, Iwan Thomas and Berwyn Price are the second wave of inductees into the Hall of Fame.
2009 Ron Jones, Shaun Pickering, Jamie Baulch and Hayley Tullett are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
2009 John Dagata is appointed as Head of Coaching.
2010 Steve Barry, Venissa Head and Kay Morley-Brown are inducted in the Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame.
2010 Swansea Harrier David Greene clinches gold in the European Championships, while Cardiff's Rhys Williams completes a historical 1-2 for Wales.
2010 At the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the Welsh athletics team wins 1 gold medal (David Greene), 2 silvers (Carys Parry, Jenny McLoughlin) and two bronzes (Rhys Williams, Christian Malcolm).
By Clive Williams