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Mumbles law graduate aims for rowing gold at Tokyo Paralympics

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Benjamin Pritchard is in Tokyo as a member of the Great Britain Paralympic Rowing Team.

He competes in the PR1 men’s single scull at the Paralympics on 27, 28 and 29 August.

Paralympic rower, Ben Pritchard
(Image: Paralympics GB)

As a student, Ben received one of Bangor University’s main sports prizes, the Llew Rees Memorial Prize, awarded to an outstanding athlete. In his third year, he represented British Triathlon at the European and World Age Group Championships.

He now says that one of his goals is to provide a bursary to a sporty athlete at Bangor University!

While at University, Ben was a very active in the Athletic Union, picking up full colours for Hockey and Cycling and Blues for Triathlon. He also sampled Gaelic Football and had a great time!

In 2016 however, he sustained a spinal injury as a result of a cycling accident.

Ben, who is from Mumbles, Swansea, says of the experience: “I was fortunate enough to attend Stoke Mandeville the national spinal injuries centre and birthplace of the Paralympic movement. At the hospital they place a huge emphasis on the benefits sport can play post injury and I was very fortunate to try a variety of sports in my tenure there.

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“Initially I disliked the rowing machine as I found it too difficult and a little on the boring side, however, a friend and fellow patient mentioned to me that there was a leaderboard being kept by the Physios and that was it. I was hooked on trying to go faster and faster – the natural progression was to reach out to British Rowing and see what the next steps were.”

Ben sustained a spinal injury in 2016 as a result of a cycling accident

In 2019, Ben decided to focus on the Paralympics, becoming a full-time athlete. He competes in the PR1 men’s single scull. He made his international rowing debut in that year, when he was placed 3rd at a World Cup and 4th at the World Championships. He has now reached his goal of attending the Paralympics, and his aim now is to achieve a podium result!

He says: “I cannot put into words how happy I am to be out here in Tokyo right now! I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Sharing the dinner hall with athletes I have watched on TV and admired is such a surreal experience and now I get to call them teammates. It is an incredible experience and I am relishing every opportunity.”

“Every athlete comes to the Paralympics to win. We wouldn’t be athletes without that competitive mindset. A realistic goal for me is a podium finish – 5th place and that is what I am going out there to achieve! I think the biggest thing as a debutant is to make sure you saviour and enjoy every moment, because you never know if this will be your first and last games or if you’ll make it back. So I am making sure that I take a moment each day to ensure I am enjoying myself.”

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Ben attended a Bangor University Open Day and says: “I am an incredibly proud Welshman so it was important to me to stay within Wales and continue higher education. I attended an open day at the School of Law and sat in the lecture room and looked out of the window and saw the picturesque views and Snowdonia frosted in snow and said to my parents right there and then, that this was where I wanted to go.

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As a keen sportsman I knew that I could get the right study/life balance as Bangor University had a high standard of education and Snowdonia National Park was within a stone’s throw and could provide endless hours of adventures.”

He says: “I am grateful for that open day making me choose Bangor. Studying at Bangor were some of the best years of my life and if I could do it all over again, I would be right there!”

Ben with his fiancé (Image: Izzy Cooper)

Ben had this to say about future plans: “The short-term focus is Tokyo and then some well-earned rest and relaxation. I am sure my fiancé will get me heavily involved in our postponed wedding and I look forward to spending some time with friends and family.

“Covid has meant that a lot of the normal friends and family time has had to be compromised for my end goal of competing here at Tokyo. My long-term goal is to provide a bursary to a sporty athlete at the University as I was very lucky to receive the Llew Rees Memorial Prize and would love to help a young sportsperson the opportunity to develop their craft just like I had the chance to do at the University.”

(Lead image: British Rowing)

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Cycling

Minister announces £50m investment to encourage cycle use

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Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is the aim of a £50m investment announced by Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters.

Speaking on a visit to Cardiff-based cycling charity Pedal Power, the Deputy Minister said the money would fund cycling routes and new facilities right across Wales.

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Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “This is a substantial investment and part of our commitment to making cycling easier so people cut the amount of journeys they take by car and travel in a way that is better for our planet.

“Getting people out of cars for short journeys and encouraging them to walk or cycle instead is a huge challenge for us, but one that has to be met if we are to reach our net zero carbon emission target by 2050.

“We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and routes in place so that people have the choice of cycling for their everyday journeys – we need to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do.”

One organisation that is benefiting from this investment is Pedal Power in South Wales.

As part of a series of Welsh Government e-bike pilot schemes, the cycling charity received £0.21m for its ‘See Cycling Differently’ project which is aimed at increasing the inclusivity of cycling by offering a range of e-cycles.

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Thanks to the money received the charity has expanded its e-cycle fleet and is encouraging its users to cycle more.  

Jeff Mayle, Pedal Power use and Deputy Minister Lee Waters

Director of Pedal Power, Cardiff, Sian Donovan said: “Cycling is a fantastic way for everyone – all ages and abilities – to have fun, gain more independence and enjoy a sense of freedom which we know has provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic.

“We were delighted to receive funding from the Welsh Government to help us to continue to remove barriers to cycling so that it can be truly accessible and inclusive for all.”

As part of the investment announced today, all local authorities will receive a minimum of £500k with additional allocations having been awarded based on the outcome of a competitive application process.

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Sport

West Wales accountancy firm sponsors local triathlete in his bid to become a champion Ironman

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Accountancy firm Ashmole & Co are to sponsor local tri-athlete Andrew Horsfall-Turner this year as he aims to fulfil his dream of becoming the first British professional male to win at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Andrew, from Swansea, is part of a new generation of up-and-coming Ironman athletes who are ready to challenge the status quo and change the dynamics of the event. He took up Triathlon in 2018 after competing as an elite swimmer for many years. In his first Ironman competition, in 2019 he qualified for Kona as an Age Group athlete.

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Andrew in training

Jim Cornock, Partner with Ashmole & Co and an Ironman himself said, “It is a pleasure to be able to sponsor Andrew in his bid to become a champion Ironman. It is a fantastic achievement to be able to compete at such a high level in such a demanding mixture of events and we wish him all the luck with his forthcoming championships. As a local business we are always happy to support local sports teams and individuals to help them achieve their goals.”

Last year Andrew took on the Outlaw Triathlon events, the first in June at Outlaw Half Nottingham, he qualified for his Professional Racing License. He went on to break the Ironman Distance Welsh Record when winning Outlaw Full in July.

In 2022 Andrew looks to take on the Professional Ironman circuit where the aspiration is to gain qualification to the Ironman World Championships. Within the next five years he aims to contend for the Ironman World Championships title.

Andrew said, “I am so grateful to Ashmole & Co for supporting me. Without sponsorship it is impossible to compete at this level. It would be great to get the backing of other local companies looking to support an athlete as well. Please follow my journey towards an Ironman title on Instagram.”

Andrew will also be competing in the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea triathlon will take place on Sunday, August 7, 2022.

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Athletes participating in IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea will take on a 1.2-mile (1.9km) swim at the Prince of Wales Dock before cycling a one-loop 56-mile (90km) bike course.

Athletes will cycle through the Mumbles along roads that hug the Gower’s coastal clifftops before cycling out through Rural Swansea before heading back along Swansea Bay into the city.

From here they will return to Swansea as they prepare for transition in the Maritime Quarter beside the Rive Tawe.

Lastly, athletes will take on a 13.1-mile (21.1km) two loop run course which takes them from the city centre, out past the new eye-catching gold-coloured Swansea Arena, towards Mumbles before heading back towards the finish line at the Marina.

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