Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics: Senedd welcome for returning medal stars

By Carl RobertsBBC Sport Wales
Welsh athletes won a total of 22 medals in Tokyo
Welsh Olympic and Paralympic athletes won a total of 22 medals in Tokyo

Wales' Olympians and Paralympians have been welcomed in the Senedd to celebrate their Tokyo success.

The Welsh athletes won 22 medals - eight at the Olympics and 14 at the Paralympics.

First Minister Mark Drakeford thanked them for "brightening up a second Covid summer" and for their success "to demonstrate what a small nation like Wales can achieve on the global stage".

Monday's event was held inside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

But the public got a glimpse of the medal-winning athletes as they posed on the Senedd steps for a photo opportunity.

Previously, Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been welcomed to Cardiff Bay for a more public celebration - crowds flocked to greet them after success at London 2012.

The Llywydd, Elin Jones, also praised the sports stars: "Huge congratulations to the athletes from Wales that we've been so proud to see competing in Tokyo.

"Years of training, commitment and hard work has led to a superb collection of medals before an audience of millions worldwide and I'm extremely proud to welcome some of them to the Senedd to celebrate their success."

Aled Sion Davies is now a three-time Paralympic gold medallist after Tokyo success in the F63 shot put and he was part of the 2012 and 2016 Senedd celebrations.

"It's always an honour coming down here, I'm very proud to be Welsh and I always love celebrating the success of that Welsh contingent in the British team," said Davies.

"The homecoming is always lovely, it's a shame that we can't get hundreds of people here like we've seen over the years, because everyone loves supporting the Olympics and Paralympic Games and we see that when we come back here."

Olympic taekwondo silver medallist Lauren Williams delayed her return to training after the Olympics in order to attend the ceremony in the Senedd.

Williams began the long drive from Cardiff to her training base in Manchester once the ceremony ended.

"When we were out there (in Tokyo) we didn't really have an idea of the support that was building back at home," Williams said.

"Events like this, the homecoming, where we can come together as a team and truly celebrate our success is really letting it sink in, and it is incredible to see the support.

Sarah Jones and her fiancé Leah Wilkinson won bronze as part of the Team GB women's hockey team.

"We're obviously part of Team GB and being able to both represent and medal as Team GB is very special, but to then come and celebrate Welsh success within that is really lovely," Jones said.

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