2011 has been an emotional year for Welsh sport

By Peter ShuttleworthBBC Sport Wales
Dai Greene
Dai Greene added the world title to his European and Commonwealth crown

From the brilliant Dai Greene conquering the world to the great Gary Speed sadly passing away, 2011 was the year Welsh sport felt every emotion.

A year that promised so much was overshadowed by the in November when tribalism was put to one side to mourn a hero who was revered as much in England as he was here in Wales.

The former Wales captain, midfielder and most-capped outfield player had transformed a national side which jumped, in just 12 months, an to move into the top 50 for the first time since April 2003.

Gareth Bale inspired the youthful side to four wins in five games as Wales looked forward to their in September with an excitement that had been missing for the best part of a decade.

Wales' re-emergence as a credible international team followed in the stunning slipstream of Swansea City's promotion to the Premier League following their memorable .

The Swans created history by becoming the first Welsh team to compete in the Premier League as the club completed an . Just eight years earlier Swansea only survived relegation from the Football League on the final day of the 2002-03 season.

The Welsh rugby union side also enjoyed a renaissance as they went from 2007 World Cup flops to 2011 semi-finalists.

Warren Gatland's team were not fancied as they headed out to New Zealand but Wales shocked the rugby world with impressive performances that should have earned them a shot at the Webb Ellis Cup.

Greene wins Britain's first gold

But Wales captain Sam Warburton's controversial dismissal in their semi-final defeat to France gave Welsh rugby its latest "what might have been" tale.

Greene, on the other hand, restored pride to Welsh athletics when the 400m hurdler became the first Welshman since Colin Jackson to win an individual world crown when he

The 25-year-old added the world title to his European and Commonwealth victories but an Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games is the one Greene really wants.

Greene's "work in progress" story is typical in that it is hoped this year's achievements prove to be mere building blocks to greater successes in the years to come.

Helen Jenkins secured her as the Welsh triathlete builds towards reaching the gold standard at her home Olympics.

And Tom James, an Olympic champion at Beijing at 2008, hopes to do the same after winning the on his comeback this year.

Geraint Thomas is another Welsh Olympian hoping to successfully follow up his world championship winning heroics and defend his Olympic title in London.

The Cardiff rider's team pursuit bid could be his last appearance on the track as he continues to impress in the .

Jenkins seals world triathlon title

Boxer , sailor and taekwondo martial artist prepare for their Olympic debuts with confidence after proving their ability on the biggest stage by all winning silver at their respective world championships.

Javelin thrower Nathan Stephens hopes to emulate his world championship gold at the London Paralympics while sailor , who won silver at the World Championships, will hope to go one better in 2012.

Welsh boxing, in particular, is strong as Selby and fellow amateur will ensure Wales has two fighters at the Olympics for the first time following their impressive performances at the World Championships.

is flying the flag for British boxing, let along Wales, as the WBO light-heavyweight ends 2011 as the United Kingdom's only world champion as Amir Khan, David Haye and Carl Froch were dethroned.

won the European lightweight belt, claimed the Commonwealth featherweight title and Gary Buckland secured the British super featherweight title in a busy 2011 in Welsh boxing.

Finally, we bid farewell to Welsh rugby's top try-scorer from the international stage, dual-code international and the as a Super League team.

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