Thursday 11th October, 2018
Britain’s 1968 Olympic captain, Ron Jones, one of the all-time greats of Welsh Athletics, returns to his home town this Friday to officially open a new £3m athletics facility in his name.
Apart from his Olympic team captaincy, Ron’s main claim to fame is being part of the British team that set a new world sprint record in 1963 and winning more Welsh sprint titles than anyone else - 12. That’s more than 1948 Olympic silver medallist and rugby star Ken Jones and former world sprint hurdles record holder Colin Jackson. Current Welsh 100m record holder Christian Malcolm only won nine Welsh titles – that’s how good Ron was.
Ron said: “It will be a privilege to be back in my home town to name the new stadium after me. I’m humbled. I have very fond memories of my early athletics days and I'm a little bit sad that the late Bernard Baldwin, founder of the Nos Galan road races who died last year, will not be here to see the occasion.”
Ron continues: “I was a late starter in athletics and, after knocking on the front door of Bernard in Campbell Terrace, Mountain Ash for advice, he suggested that I ran in the Glamorgan championships of that year. With very little training or preparation I won the 440 yards but came nowhere in the 100."
“At that time I had already entered for the Welsh championships in both the 100 and 440 yards and as the 100 event came before the 440 I ran that and, to my great surprise, won. It was only the second or third 100 I had ever run! Perhaps if the 440 had come first I would have just run in that, and not bothered with the 100 again!” So Bernard played a great part in my starting in athletics all those years ago.”
The new facility in Aberdare will be a far cry from the training conditions he had to put up with when he started to train seriously in 1956. There was no running track to train on so he had to resort to training on railway sidings running between coal trucks. Ron recalls: “There was about a 150 yards straight with the trucks 2-3 feet apart. I used to run between them and do about 20 untimed runs two or three times a week. That’s all I did initially, as Cardiff’s Maindy Stadium was an hour away on the train and was too expensive and difficult to get to.”
The state of the art facility in Aberdare will be a 8 lane fully synthetic surface with 4 jumps pits and UKA specification throwing cage, plus a stand. The facility will be the home of Aberdare Valley Athletics Club.
James Williams, Head of Operations at Welsh Athletics said: “We will hope to use the facility next season to host leagues and regional championships. The new facility will be a major addition to the competition facilities in Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council are to be congratulated on providing this excellent facility. Let’s hope that the new facilities will lead to another athletics star to match Ron’s achievements in the coming years.”
Thanks go to Clive Williams for the write up