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Swansea boxer aiming for Commonwealth medal

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Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Welsh Boxing has revealed it is aiming to improve on its medal tally from four years ago.

And gunning for a medal is Swansea’s Helen Jones who boxes at the 50 kg category

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“I am proper buzzing now; I can’t wait. This is my first Commonwealth Games so I’m aiming to get a lot of experiences but hopefully I can bring back a medal to Wales. It’s a proud moment; it’s been a long four years training full-time.”

Now part of the GB Boxing World Class programme, Jones’ talents were nurtured by the Welsh Boxing’s full time, residential programme.

Back in the Wales camp in the lead up to the Games, she says it has had a hugely positive impact:

“The training they’ve put together for us has been really good. We have everything we need here – a chef who cooks us healthy food, and they make sure we do all the right training and do the right stuff at the right time. We have a lot of facilities here too.”

Zoe Andrews is going to her first Commonwealth Games (Image: Steve Pope/ Sportingwales)

Meanwhile, Zoe Andrews, 19, from Port Talbot is going to her first Commonwealth Games after she first got involved through Briton Ferry Boxing Club:

“I’m feeling confident but also a bit nervous now we’re leading into it.

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“I’ve been full-time with the Welsh programme for a year. It was hard when I first started because I was just 18 and I’d just left school but I’ve got into it now and it’s good. It’s brilliant here because I get support from everyone – the coaches, the boxers and I get support from my parents too. I’m hoping they can come and watch – they’ve got to find out when I’m boxing and then hopefully get the tickets.”

Welsh Boxing is certainly booming with talents like Jones. In the last three years, Welsh Boxing’s fortunes have flourished. Lauren Price became Wales’ first ever World Champion and first-ever Olympic Champion. And Welsh boxers have won medals from the Senior and Under 22 European Championships.

And Lauren’s progress has been closely watched by Helen:

“I remember watching her at the last Commonwealth Games on – I watched and watched her at the last Commonwealth Games and also Rosie’s who in the squad heading to Birmingham. I looked and thought that’s what I want to do so it’s mad now to think I’m doing it.”

Performance Director Chris Type said: “Currently, we have the highest number of boxers we’ve ever had on the GB programme – Wales makes up 20% of the programme – and the majority of those are on the highest level of support. That’s an astonishing piece of the pie for a small nation.”

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Welsh boxers returned home from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with four medals, led by Lauren Price who made history by becoming Wales’ first female boxer to win gold.

But despite the impressive two golds, a silver and a bronze from Welsh boxers in Australia, national coach Colin Jones is confident they can improve on the tally in Birmingham.

“In the Gold Coast, we were incredibly proud of what we achieved and the results actually put Wales fourth on the boxing medal table,” says Jones who became British, Commonwealth and European welterweight champion.

Lauren Price of course won’t feature for Wales this summer after turning professional but Jones remains upbeat about Wales’ chances: “We’re very ambitious and we think we can improve on our achievements in the Gold Coast. And that’s really down to the fact that seven years ago we completely redesigned our programme. We’ve been able to achieve a full time, residential programme at the Sport Wales National Centre for boxers that aren’t yet part of the GB set-up.

“Before this, our boxers were spread out across Wales and we’d meet up at camps but now it’s much more consistent and we are with the boxers week in, week out,” adds Jones, who stays on site with the boxers from Monday to Thursday.

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Chris Type – who came into post as Performance Director seven years ago – added: “We have so much more contact time with the boxers now. It means our best boxers are with the best coaches. Colin leads the boxing side of the programme and his vast knowledge and understanding of what it takes to develop a boxer to international level is quite incredible.”

Working alongside Sport Wales’ Institute team, Welsh Boxing ensures its talents are managing nutrition, lifestyle, sleep patterns and weight management:

“You don’t see all this on the day of the competition but it’s absolutely critical in developing a brilliant boxer,” adds Type.

Lead image: Swansea boxer, Helen Jones (Image: Steve Pope / Sportingwales)

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