Rhys Williams

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Athletics runs in Rhys’ blood. His father, JJ Williams is a Welsh Rugby Hero, who still currently holds the record for the most tries in a Test Series, and he also ran for Wales in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Both of Rhys’ siblings have also represented Wales in athletics; his brother James for the 1,500 metre and his sister Kathryn for the 400 metre hurdles.

Rhys excelled at school athletics, in both swimming and running. He was the Welsh Under 15 Backstroke Champion, and competed for the Welsh National Swimming Team. After earning the title of Welsh Schoolboy Champion in 1999, he was selected for the European Youth Olympics, and his impressive athletic career reached its springboard.

He won the400 metre hurdles at the European Youth Olympics in 2001, after which his Junior career went from strength to strength with a succession of titles, including European Junior Champion in 2003, and European U23 Champion in 2005. 

2006 marked the start of another successful year for Rhys. He achieved his personal best at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where he finished fourth with a time of 49.09 seconds. Later, in the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, he won a bronze medal with a similar time of 49.12 seconds, and a silver medal in the 4 x 400 metre relay as the second runner alongside Robert Tobin, Graham Hedman and Timothy Benjamin, with a time of 3:01.63 minutes.

On the 17th June 2008, Rhys was crushed with disappointment when it became apparent that he would miss the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as a result of a stress fracture to his right foot, an injury obtained when he competed in the Welsh Championships two months earlier.

Subsequently, he was forced to withdraw from competitions for three years. The fracture was a recurrence from a similar injury just a year previous.

Back on form in 2010, however, he took silver behind a fellow Welshman Dai Greene at the European Championships in Barcelona, and a bronze medal in Delhi at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

It was a hard slog to the Olympic Games in London. After failing at the Aviva trials in Birmingham, the prospect seemed to fall further and further away, but one last opportunity arose at the European Championships in Helsinki, and he grabbed it with both hands, winning the European title with a gold, and qualifying in the ‘A’ section, which led to that much sought after Olympic selection.

He reached the semi-finals, where he ranked fourth with a time of 49.63 seconds.

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