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Transatlantic Storytelling - Welsh Athletes Feature in Documentary

30/06/2020 00:00, In Blog /

A group of Wales’ leading athletes will star in a brand new feature length documentary which gets a Global Digital Premiere this evening. The documentary will then be screened on local and national TV stations in the USA, including ESPN+.


The ground breaking film titled “Transatlantic Storytelling”  explores the role of sport in Welsh life and is told through the exclusive and personal stories of 7 elite Welsh sports men and women, all hailing from Cardiff Met University. The fastest man in Wales (Sam Gordon), the Team GB cross country runner who said running saved her life (Jenny Nesbitt), the student sportsman who nearly died, twice, the second time being brought back to life by a fellow student (Will Godwin) the International rugby player who got so badly injured he had to retire but two years on has returned, this time to Paralympic sport and broken the world record and is focused on Tokyo 2021 (Harrison Walsh) the International netballer (Lydia Hitchings) and the county cricketer (Sam Pearce) both final year students on the verge of professional careers trying to find that balance of study alongside the pressures of elite sport. And finally, the former Welsh football International player turned university lecturer and football coach, (Dr. Christian Edwards) reflecting on the year when his team won the Cup, made it to Europe, but a year when he also collapsed on the training ground with a suspected heart attack and was told he might never be able to stand on the touchline again.


All of the seven stories in the film focus on Cardiff Met University athletes and coaches, further confirming the institution’s reputation as the beating heart of Welsh sport and a conveyor belt for sporting success ever since Lynn Davies and Gareth Edwards were students there in the 1960s.


The film also features stunning scenics of Wales’s mountains, castles, cliffs and coastlines, captured earlier this year in the month before the nation went into lockdown.


The project is the result of a partnership between the Sport Broadcast MSc course at Cardiff Met and the SportsLink programme at Ball State. The partnership has been built up by the respective course leaders – Joe Towns, in Wales and Chris Taylor in the USA over the past two years. In Spring 2019 Taylor flew to Wales to see if Cardiff was the right city for him to bring his students to make a film and while in the city he gave the Welsh students a masterclass on Sports Storytelling. In Autumn Towns flew out to Indiana to give a lecture on Creativity in Sports Production and to witness up close the scale of the broadcast operations and hype surrounding college sports in the States.


In early 2020 students from the two courses hooked up online. There was a month of skype calls, the Welsh students picked and pitched twelve potential athlete stories for their American counterparts to research. The Americans had to choose seven and those seven stories would form the spine of their documentary. In March this year, 15 American staff and students landed in Cardiff, via Minneapolis and Amsterdam, ready to make their documentary. The Welsh students helped with locations and local knowledge, terminology, research, contacts and carrying camera kit. The American students worked as directors, producers and reporters. The project has been edited remotely during the COVID19 pandemic and will be premiered on Facebook on June 30th, before linear transmission on local and national TV in America.



The groundbreaking documentary features seven exclusive stories, with 22 different interviews, and stunning visuals from throughout Cardiff and Wales. 

  • Sam Gordon is the fastest man in Wales, owning multiple records and sprinting towards the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Though always smiling, the elite runner’s surge into the spotlight hasn’t come without setbacks.
  • Jenny Nesbitt represents Great Britain and Wales as a talented distance runner.  But, as a teenager, the world class athlete faced serious threats to her success
  • Harrison Walsh, who after a horrific rugby injury ended his promising career, shifted his focus. Now, the world-record holding thrower is aiming for the 2021 Paralympic Games.
  • Will Godwin is a student at Cardiff Met, who started his athletic career as a triathlete and rower until two freak accidents changed his life.
  • Sam Pearce, the Cardiff Met student and captain of the cricket team, is also on the verge of a professional career in one of the world’s most popular sports.
  • Lydia Hitchings, a student in Cardiff Met’s School of Art and design, grew up playing netball.  Now, a professional player, she has a goal of playing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
  • Dr. Christian Edwards is the men’s soccer coach at Cardiff Met and guided his team to the 2019 UEFA Europa League.  Six months later, he collapsed on the pitch.

Ball State Sports Link, in partnership with Cardiff Met Sport Broadcast, will present its feature-length documentary, Transatlantic Storytelling 2020, with a world digital premiere June 30.

For viewers in the United Kingdom, the debut will be in primetime at 8 p.m. For viewers in the United States, the start time is 3 p.m. 

Direct links can be found through each program’s social media accounts — @bsusportslink@MetBroadcast and @CMetSportTV.

The initial release of the documentary, produced entirely by students from Ball State’s Emmy award-winning Sports Link programme, in association with students from the Cardiff Met Sport Broadcast programme , will be streamed live on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the project’s official website, Transatlantic Storytelling pdf.


In addition, student producers and athletes featured in the film will be engaging on social media using the hashtag #TransatlanticStorytelling throughout the live stream.

Following the June 30 digital premiere, the documentary will then be edited into a 58-minute version released for linear television stations and film festivals — along with additional digital platforms — in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

About The Project:

Transatlantic Storytelling is an immersive learning, global storytelling project between students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and Cardiff Metropolitan University in Cardiff, Wales.

Ball State students collaborated with Cardiff Met students on identifying, developing and producing feature stories on Welsh athletes. 

While on the ground in Cardiff, Wales, for 12 days in late February to March, students worked together to capture footage, scenes and interviews with the athletes. 

In 2019, Ball State and Cardiff Met agreed to a five-year understanding which recognizes the mutual benefits of an educational partnership, which in part will lead to collaboration, opportunities and faculty/student engagement.