Commonwealth Games 2022: Introducing our Endurance Athletes
This years 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham are coming! Welsh Athletics are proud to introduce the Endruance Athletes who will be making their way to Birmingham to represent Team Wales and compete in events from the 1,500m to 5,000m.
From: Poole, now lives in Cardiff
Coach: Bob Smith
Joining Jake Heyward in the 1500m is Piers Copeland. Earlier this year, he became British Indoor 1500m Champion and his sporting CV also boasts a silver medal from the European Under 23 Championships.
He started running at the age of nine, taking part in cross country and local school athletics events.
Piers competing over 3,000m at the Cardiff Met Christmas Classic.
"As I got older, I joined my local club and took a liking to Track and Field especially the middle distances".
Piers will compete in the 1,500m heats on Thursday 4th August.
From: Poole, lives in Loughborough
Coach: Rob Denmark
Club: Poole AC
Four years ago, Melissa Courtney-Bryant returned home from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, having bagged a bronze medal in the 1500m. A personal best performance, she was beaten only by Caster Semenya and Beatrice Chepkoech.
She will be aiming for the podium once again, making up for the fact she missed the Olympic trials because of a ligament injury in her heel.
Melissa celebrating her 1,500m bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Mark Shearman.
Other career highlights include winning bronze at the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships over the 3,000m. She was also crowned 2020 British Indoor 3000m Champion 3,000m.
Melissa will compete in the 1,500m heats on Friday 5th August.
From: Cardiff, now lives in Oregon
Coach: Mark Rowland
Club: Cardiff AAC
He has beaten the age-group records set by Seb Coe and Steve Cram and he’s moved stateside to train at the Oregon Project in Eugene, the world famous Nike base where Mo Farah has honed his skills. And he is coached by Olympic steeplechase bronze medallist Mark Rowland.
The 23-year-old miler grew up in Cardiff and he lists winning the European Under 18 and Under 20 Championships, stepping up to senior level and making an Olympic final as his career highlights to date.
Heyward has certainly had his brush with injuries, returning to training in 2021 following problems with his achilles in both legs, but things are going smoothly this season.
On competing for Wales, he said:
“It’s really exciting, it’s very rare you get the opportunity to represent Wales on the world stage. And I think it’s more special representing Wales than the UK personally. I grew up with a lot of the people that are potentially making the team so that’s really exciting.”
Jake competing in the 2020 Olympic Games 1,500m final, where he finished 9th. Mark Shearman.
And you can be sure that while he is back in the UK, Heyward will be making the most of some home comforts:
“I can’t wait to have roast lamb and some decent chocolate. My Grandma does send me shipments of Cadbury’s, Yorkshire Tea and biscuits – they don’t do biscuits and chocolate very well in the States!”
Jake will compete in the 1,500m heats on Thursday 4th August.
Event: 3000m Steeplechase
Coach: Tomaz Plibersek
Club: Swansea Harriers
Jonny Hopkins is heading to his second Commonwealth Games this summer after being selected by Team Wales to compete this summer.
The 3000m steeplechaser finished in sixth place four years ago in Australia and will now be aiming to make the podium in Birmingham.
Jonny competing in the 3,00m steeplechase at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where he finished 6th. Mark Shearman.
He began running in school cross country races. After competing for Wales at an international level, he moved to the States on a scholarship, spending three years at Providence College.
Returning to UK, he was eager to focus on a new event – the 3000m steeplechase. Aside from athletics, he is studying in Cardiff to be an Occupational Therapist.
Jonny will compete on Saturday 6th August.
From : Brighton
Event : 5,000m
Coach : Joel Kidger / Geoff Watkins
Club : Brighton Phoenix
Beth will be making her Commonwealth debut at this years Commonwealth Games. Although getting a late call up to the team, Beth comes into the championships in the form of her life having just run a 9:06.59 3,000m personal best and a 15:49.67 5,000m personal best.
Having competed in the 5,000m for Great Britain at last years European Team Championships, Beth comes into these games with championship experience.
Beth winning the Loughborough International 3,000m in 2021.
Upon her selection, Beth said
“I am absolutely delighted to have been added to the team. We set out this goal a few years ago and I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get there so I am grateful for the opportunity and that the hard work has paid off.
Now I can’t wait to get out there and give it my all for Team Wales in my first major Champs!"
Beth will compete in the 5,000m on Sunday 7th August.
From : Worcester, now lives in Cheltenham
Event : 5,000m
Coach : Chris Jones
Club : Cardiff AAC
It will be Jenny Nesbitt’s second appearance at a Commonwealth Games this summer. But this time around, she will have more time to prepare after having just 72 hours notice last time around:
“I didn’t expect to be going until three days before the flight to Australia. Dewi Griffiths unfortunately had to pull out with injury so they asked me if I’d come. So I had to quickly sort my flight out to Australia to join the holding camp on Sunshine Beach.
“The atmosphere was incredible; I’ll never forget walking into that stadium. It was so loud and I was so nervous. I took a lot away from that and how to approach a major Champs and how to keep calm under pressure.”
Originally from Worcester, the 2022 Commonwealth Games will almost certainly feel like a home Games. And she aims to impress family, friends and former coaches with a top six or top eight finish.
Jenny competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
She has been busy training in the United States this year after a “breakthrough race” in February. Running an indoor 5k in Boston, she achieved a new PB of more than 12 seconds, breaking the Welsh record. It also saw her safely achieve the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard.
“ I gained a lot of confidence from that and I ran another 5k outdoors with another personal best, running a couple of seconds quicker (15:17) and a personal best over the 1500m which is my nemesis event. It kind of all came together and I’m really pleased with my performances on the track this year.”
Jenny competes in the 5,000m on Sunday 7th August.