One of Wales’ greatest athletes in the modern era, Rhys Williams, has announced his retirement from the sport. His decision follows a torrid period of injury that has rendered him unable to train effectively for several months. This left him in a position where qualification for next year’s Commonwealth Games was unachievable.
A fiercely proud Welshman, the 400m hurdler from Bridgend had been hoping to qualify for the 2018 Gold Coast Games in an attempt to improve on his bronze medal from Delhi in 2010. The Cardiff AAC athlete has achieved the unique feat of becoming European Champion at every level from U18 through to Senior, as well as picking up the full complement of European Senior medals; beginning with a bronze in 2006, silver in 2010, before becoming European Champion in 2012. He was once again the highest placing Brit in the 2016 edition of those Championships when placing 5th in a highly competitive final. Rhys also picked up a silver medal at the 2010 event with fellow Welshman, Tim Benjamin.
He competed for Wales at two Commonwealth Games, finishing 4th in Melbourne, and before going one better and claiming the bronze medal in 2010.
He competed for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, making the semi-final, with a semi-final place also achieved at the 2005 and 2013 World Championships.
His performances in 2016 saw him being awarded the Welsh Athletics title of “Male Athlete of the Year”, while also receiving the Award of Honour for his services to Welsh Athletics at this year’s Welsh Senior Championships.
Welsh Athletics Head of Coaching & Performance commented;
“Rhys’ decision to retire from the sport is one that has clearly been given a great deal of thought and one that we have met with the utmost respect and support – it is never an easy decision to make. He is an icon within the sport in Wales having achieved so much on the international stage – winning medals at European and Commonwealth level throughout all of the age groups, as well as representing Great Britain on the World stage and at a home Olympic Games. He was, and will continue to be an inspiration to many and I would like to thank Rhys for all that he has offered to the sport during his extensive career at the top. I would also like to wish him well in his transition from professional sport into the next chapter on his journey, whilst truly hoping that he remains part of the sport in some other guise in the future.”
On his decision to retire, Rhys wanted to pay tribute to those closest to him over the years;
"I would like to personally thank Welsh Athletics and Sport Wales for all their help and support during my athletics career. I would also like to thank all my support team who have supported me faithfully over the years; my family, coaches, sponsors and all my training partners. As a patriotic Welshman, nothing has given me more pride than putting on a Welsh Vest and competing for my Country. Unfortunately, injury has prematurely ended my hopes of competing one last time at The Commonwealth Games next year. However, I will be cheering on all of the Welsh team”
He finishes his career as one of the most prolific Welsh medallists on the global stage, with a career spanning close to 20 years at the top.