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Welsh Varsity returns after two-year hiatus

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Following a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the date for the 2022 Welsh Varsity between Cardiff and Swansea Universities has been confirmed.

Swansea will host this year’s week-long festival of sport, with most fixtures and the showpiece rugby matches taking place on Wednesday 27 April.

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The Welsh Varsity initially began as a rugby match between Cardiff and Swansea Universities at the Cardiff Arms Park in 1997 but has since grown year-on-year and is now the largest student multi-sport event in the UK.

Throughout the week-long festival of sport, students will compete in more than 30 different sports for the coveted Welsh Varsity Shield, including: Ultimate Frisbee; swimming; golf; fencing; squash; boxing; basketball and hockey.

Cardiff University currently retain both the Welsh Varsity Shield and Cup, following their victories in 2019.

Georgia Smith, Sports Officer at Swansea University Students’ Union, said: “I’m so excited to see Welsh Varsity returning, and if that wasn’t good enough, it’s in Swansea! After what’s been a tough couple of years for students, I know that everyone at Swansea University will be thrilled to see Sketty Lane bleed green once again. 

“It will be my pleasure to welcome current students and alumni back to see the biggest varsity in Wales to celebrate sport and friendly rivalry.

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“My message to all Swansea students is get ready to sing and chant for Swansea and show Cardiff what the Green and White Army’s made of!”

Megan Somerville, VP Sports and Athletic Union President at Cardiff University Students’ Union, said: “I am thrilled to be involved in the long-awaited return of Welsh Varsity. Preparations are already underway for this amazing event that enables our clubs to showcase their talent on and off the pitch.

“This huge event is a centrepiece of the student calendar and we can’t wait to welcome back fans both new and old to support Team Cardiff. Make sure you’re a part of the biggest student sporting event in the UK this April and watch Cardiff bring the cup and shield home.”

Ticket details and the full event schedule will be announced in due course.

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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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