Can Wales eclipse Beijing success at London?

By Andrew WeeksBBC Wales’ London 2012 producer
Dai Greene
Dai Greene could become Wales' all-time greatest track and field athlete

So how many competitors will Wales have at the 2012 Olympics and who will bring home the gold? With 100 days to go until the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, the Welsh contingent is shaping up well and promises to deliver one of Wales' greatest medal hauls.

To give it some context, there were 12 Welsh competitors four years ago in Beijing, returning five medals and it was Wales' greatest performance at the Olympics.

In recent times, Wales has become used to picking up the odd medal - swimmer David Davies with a bronze in 2004, sailor Ian Barker in 2000, relay success for Iwan Thomas and Jamie Baulch in 1996 and so on.

All that changed on the opening weekend of the 2008 games when road cyclist Nicole Cooke ended the 36-year wait for a Welsh gold medal, and the tone was set for the rest of the games.

Cooke could yet again lead the medal charge, if selected for the women's road race on the first Sunday of the Games.

A recent return to form in the Netherlands bodes well for the cyclist from Wick, though the reigning Olympic champion faces a battle with Lizzie Armitstead to lead the GB team at the 2012 Games.

One person certain to be leading his team is 2008 gold medallist Geraint Thomas in track cycling's team pursuit.

Thomas may have raised eyebrows in the cycling world by choosing the Olympics over road racing, though that decision seems to be justified after the recent success at the World Championships in Melbourne. Finally, having been sidelined over recent months, don't rule out Abergavenny cyclist Becky James to make a late bid for selection.

In recent Games, David Davies has led the way in the water, winning a bronze in the 1500m in Athens, and silver in the 10km open water race in Beijing. This time Davies goes in the pool again, and is hopeful of going one better in the long distance race.

Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke won Gold at the 2008 Olympics

As well as Davies, Georgia Davies, Jemma Lowe and Ieuan Lloyd were all selected following the recent trials, with Jazz Carlin a favourite to make the 4x200m relay team later this year.

Should Dai Greene add Olympic gold to his European, Commonwealth and World titles, the Llanelli hurdler will be crowned arguably Wales' all-time greatest track and field athlete. Barring injury, he's a certainty to make the team.

With 2008 gold medallist Tom James leading the way, Wales should have three rowers at the games. Beijing silver medallist Tom Lucy has long since joined the marines, but step forward Chris Bartley and Vicky Thornley. The GB rowers will compete at the World Cup events in May and June before final team selection.

Having finished fifth at the Beijing games, 200m runner Christian Malcolm will be hoping to feature alongside Usain Bolt again. Among Wales' other hopefuls are Brett Morse, Joe Thomas and Rhys Williams.

Perhaps Wales' most consistent sportswoman in recent years is triathlete Helen Jenkins who kicked off her games build-up with an impressive display last weekend, finishing second at the World Triathlon Series event in Sydney.

Boxers Andrew Selby and Fred Evans have already qualified in boxing, as well as Hannah Mills in sailing, and Wales are well on their way to eclipsing the team of 12 in Beijing.

There are sure to be many more like gymnast Frankie Jones, Jade Jones in Taekwondo, and one of the unsung heroes of Welsh sport, hockey player Sarah Thomas. And of course there are the GB football teams.

However many make it, BBC Wales will be there covering the Welsh competitors' story, across TV, radio and online.

Put your comments and questions to Andrew on Twitter @AndrewJWeeks. external-link

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