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Neil Winter

Born in Monmouthshire, he became Wales’ youngest senior record holder for any event at age 15 when he cleared 4.80 metres in the pole vault at a meeting in Jarrow in 1989 to equal Peter Lynk’s existing record. 

It didn’t take long before his progression meant the Welsh record was rising and rising summer in, summer out. By the time his career came to an injury ravaged end, he had added 80 centimetres to the record with nine improvements in an incredible six year period.

It shows how advanced he was at a young age that to this day he is the UK Under 13, Under 17 and Under 20 record holder and lies eighth overall on the Senior British rankings with his best clearance of 5.60 metres achieved when he was still only 21.

This incredible youngster cleared 3.40 metres at Under 13; 5.20 metres at Under 17 and 5.50 metres at Under 20. He was the AAA Under 17 champion in 1989, Under 17 and Junior champion in 1990 and Junior champion once again in 1992 and 1993. 

He was the Welsh U17 champion in 1989 and 1990, Junior Champion in 1990 and the senior champion in 1990, 1993 and 1996. He won the UK senior title in 1993, was runner-up at the AAA senior championships in 1996.  

He went into the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Auckland hoping to win the bronze medal and with a best height of 5.50 metres at that stage. The South African Ockert Brits was the clear favourite, but he failed three times at his opening height of 5.50 metres to leave the door wide open for the young Welshman. 

He kept his nerve and went on to win with a height of 5.40 metres, adding 5 centimetres to the Games record. Brits would go on to take the title in 2002 and eventually cleared 6.03 metres. 

There was one more major event for him, the 1996 Olympic Games, at which he cleared 5.40 and then 5.60 metres before failing three times at 5.70. He was still only 22 and looked to have the athletics world at his feet. 

But injury followed injury, a dislocated shoulder and Achilles problems starting a slide into early retirement that was hastened when he underwent surgery on both knees. It was a cruel end to a career that had already delivered so much, yet promised so much more.