Events: Long Jump and Sprints
First Memories of Athletics
Gwyn started competing at the very young age of 8. The Cardiff Junior School Sports were held annually in the 1950’s at Sophia Gardens at what is now the Glamorgan Cricket ground. It was a big event and prizes were donated by Cardiff Chamber of Trade and a presentation ceremony for the winners was always held at the Jackson Hall in Westgate St. His prizes, as a 9yr old, were a glass fruit bowl and an ornamental pickled onion jar!
In 1958 the British Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Cardiff. Gwyn, like so many other starry-eyed youngsters, attended and was inspired by watching so many world-class athletes. He was fortunate enough to have a ticket for each day with a great seat by the finish line 3 rows back. The seat price was £1.05p! “I saw 3 world records being set - women’s Javelin, men’s 440 yd Hurdles and the women’s 4x 110yd relay. Milkah Singh from India won the 440 yds. Twelve years later as an athlete, I was introduced to him at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Tom Robinson, the 1 man team from the Bahamas, won the 100yds. He was my Minister of sport, 12yrs later, when my wife and I lived and worked as teachers in the Bahamas”.
Amongst the spectators in 1958, similarly inspired, were other schoolboys who would go onto leave their mark on Welsh Athletics; Mike Rowland (Endurance), Dave Lease (Pole Vault), Brian Coles (Sprints) and Lynn Davies from Nantymoel. One week after the Games finished, Gwyn joined Birchgrove Harriers, Cardiff. Such can be the impact of a major games on young minds.
Gwyn’s favourite two sports were athletics and rugby. He won Welsh Junior titles and set Welsh records at Long Jump and 4x110yd relay. In Feb 1964 he played on the wing for the Welsh Secondary Schools U18 rugby team. Four months later and still a schoolboy, Gwyn made his first appearance for the Welsh Men’s Athletics Team winning the Long Jump event with a new Welsh Junior record.
Rugby or Athletics? Which was it to be?
The arrival in Wales of Ron Pickering, the charismatic and inspirational National Coach, was the deciding factor. Ron had gathered around him a shop-window of athletic talent that included Lynn Davies. “I wanted more than anything else to be part of that group. Fortunately for me I did not have to wait long and Ron became my 1st coach.”
Later Gwyn became Lynn Davies’s number one training partner for a period of 8yrs. Lynn became not just a training partner but mentor, coach, inspiration and friend.“ I was one of the most fortunate men in British Athletics”. The knowledge gleaned from this experience was to prove invaluable in Gwyn’s later coaching career. “Little did I know then that what I could not achieve as an athlete I was going to be able to achieve 40yrs later as a coach.”
Four consecutive Welsh Senior long jump titles 1967 to 1970
Great Britain Athletics Team Outdoors and Indoors 1967 to1970
Commonwealth Games Finalist 1970
Cardiff College of Education [now UWIC] Teachers Certificate, Diploma P.E. 1964 to 1967, B.Ed Hons University of Wales Cardiff 1988.
Taught 17yrs as a P.E. teacher in Wales and at the prestigious St Andrews School, Nassau, Bahamas.
Senior Management Teams at Cwmcarn and Abersychan Comprehensives in Gwent until 1996.
Coaching Part 1
Gwyn made a rapid transition from athlete to coach. He became a senior long jump coach in 1974 (now Level 4 Performance Coach). He was involved in coaching the G.B. Junior squads in the late 1960’s and the late 1970’s. He was a member of the first Welsh Coaching Committee which was set up in the mid 1970’s. He was part of the first Welsh National Event Coaching team set up by National Coach, Malcolm Arnold in the mid 1970’s. He was part of the Welsh Coaching team for numerous international matches at home and abroad until 1988 when teaching commitments led to his retirement from athletics. Ten years later, having retired from teaching, he returned to coaching once again due to the persistence of G.B. sprinter, Doug Turner whom Gwyn had coached in 1987 and 1988.
Coaching Part2: Highlights
During a period of 4yrs from 2002 to 2006 Gwyn coached two athletes to world top ten ranking in two different events i.e. Doug Turner 200m Indoor and Gable Garenamotse Long Jump.” In the late 1990’s I was extremely fortunate to see first hand the sprint work being done by coach, Jock Anderson and his sprinters who included Doug Turner, Kevin Williams and Christian Malcolm. I was able to learn a great deal about the finer points of sprinting and this enabled me to coach Doug Turner with some success on my own from Oct 1999 to April 2002.”
It was the experience of being around gifted sprinters that enabled Gwyn to build on his previous coaching knowledge to become a much better Long Jump coach. The chance came in Sept 2004 when UWIC based Botswanan athlete, Gable Garenamotse, asked Gwyn to be his coach. The highlight of a successful five year partnership came during an eighteen month period in 2008/2009 when Gwyn guided Long Jumper Gable to three consecutive global finals i.e. World Indoor, Olympic Games, World Outdoor Championships. Gable’s 100m P.B. of 10.21 was achieved during this period.
Gwyn was Assistant Welsh Team Coach at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In 2007 Gwyn was the U.K.A. Award Winner in Wales for Services to Coach Development and in the same year was awarded the Welsh Athletics Meritorious Award.
Gable Garenamotse October 2004 to 2010
Long Jump P.B. 8.27m Botswana National Record (8.34w) 100m P.B. 10.21
2006 Commonwealth Games Silver
2006 IAAF World Ranking 9th
2006 All Africa Games Champion
2006 Botswana Sportsperson of the Year (All Sports, Men and Women)
2006 to 2009 Golden League Grand Prix Circuit
2008 World Indoor Finalist 4th
2008 Olympic Games Finalist
2009 World Championship Finalist 7th
2009 Botswana Sportsman of the Year (All Sports)
Doug Turner 1999 to 2002
2001/2002 Great Britain Athletics Team Indoor and Outdoor
2001 Welsh Outdoor 200m Champion and Championship Best Performance ( 2001 to present )
2002 Indoor 60m Championship Best Performance
2002 UK Indoor 200m Champion. Welsh All Comers Record (20.91)
2002 Ricoh European Indoor Grand Prix Circuit 20.59. World All Time Best for 35 yr old (2002 to present)
2002 Great Britain Team European Indoor Championships, Vienna
2002 IAAF World Indoor Ranking for 200m 6th (20.59)
Gillian Regan 1977 to 1987 Long Jump
Welsh Long Jump Record Holder 6.52m (1982 to present)
1978 - 1986 Great Britain Athletics Team, Indoors and Outdoors
1982 Commonwealth Games Finalist, Brisbane
1986 Commonwealth Games Finalist, Edinburgh