Commonwealth Youth Games: Critical building blocks, says Wales chef de mission

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Commonwealth Youth Games are 'motivation for Tokyo 2020'

The chef de mission of Wales's Commonwealth Youth Games squad says the event is vital in developing the nation's next sporting stars.

Wales is sending 40 teenage athletes to the 2017 Games, which starts in the Bahamas on Tuesday.

"I think it's a critical development tool for young athletes to have that experience," Gerwyn Owen told BBC Wales Sport.

"If you look at previous teams that we've sent to the Games, you've got names like Geraint Thomas, Frankie Jones, Jazz Carlin, Elinor Barker - the list goes on and on.

"It's not about medal-winning - it's about the learning and education that the young athletes will have in that environment."

Wales will be represented in six sports - athletics, swimming, boxing, judo, tennis and rugby 7s.

The team includes 17-year-old Sarah Omoregie - sister of hurdler David - and 16-year-old swimmer Bec Sutton - who won three medals at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.

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Sarah Omoregie: 'I want to show people I'm good too!"

"I definitely want to come away with a medal," said Sarah.

"I've looked at the (Commonwealth age group) rankings and I'm second, so there's definitely an opportunity.

"I've seen the amount of success David's had and it's made me want to work hard and show people that I'm good as well!"

'No undue pressure'

Wales ranked 15th with six medals at the 2015 Youth Games in Samoa.

But Owen says there are no set goals for his young squad.

"There's no undue pressure," he said. "I'm definitely not going to be putting a medal target on them.

"Obviously the athletes themselves will be putting pressure on themselves to win medals but for me, it's about learning.

With the event seen as a pathway to the senior Commonwealths, Owen believes some of the squad will be targeting next year's Games in Australia.

"There's now a bubbling undercurrent of huge potential coming through," he said.

"We've got four Welsh athletes at the World Champs and nine at the Para-athletics World Champs.

"There'll be one or two (at the Youth Games) who're eyeing the Gold Coast and may already be on the long list."

Team Wales squad

ATHLETICS:

Bethany Moule (16, Neath Port Talbot), James Tomlinson (17, Pembrokeshire), Lauren Evans (16, Cardiff), Naomi Reid (16, Rhondda Cynon Taf), Sarah Omoregie (17, Cardiff).

BOXING:

Jacob Lovell (17, Cardiff), James Probert (16, Pembrokeshire), Jay Munn (18, Cardiff), John Wilson (17, Conwy), Rhys Edwards (17, Cardiff), Sammy Lee (18, Cardiff).

JUDO:

Callum Bennett (14, Carmarthenshire), Ffion Robinson (14, Carmarthenshire), Sam Ashton (17, Rhondda Cynon Taf).

SWIMMING:

Connor Bryan (16, Oxfordshire), Elena Morgan (14, Flintshire), Hannah Sloan (16, Vale of Glamorgan), Iestyn Cole (17, Carmarthenshire), Ioan Evans (15, Bridgend), Joseph Small (16, Shropshire), Lewis Fraser (16, Swansea), Medi Harris (14, Gwynedd), Megan Allison (15, Monmouthshire), Rebecca Sutton (16, Bridgend).

TENNIS:

James Story (16, Cardiff), Morgan Cross (15, Flintshire).

WOMEN'S RUGBY 7s:

Gwen Crabb, Lleucu George, Courtney Greenway, Ffion Jones, Manon Johnes, Bethan Lewis, Caitlin Lewis, Maisie Mackenzie, Amy Morgan, Ellie Morgan, Lucy Packer, Kayleigh Powell, Imogen Shide, Lauren Smyth.

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