Success and sackings - Welsh Sport in 2014: Part One

Frankie Jones
Frankie Jones is now working as a coach after retiring from competitive rhythmic gymnastics

From history made at the Commonwealth Games to football sackings and hirings at Cardiff and Swansea, 2014 has been a year to remember for fans and competitors in Wales. Settle down and enjoy a look back at some of the headline-grabbing moments.

Rhythmic gymnastics: Frankie Jones' flurry of medals

Frankie Jones takes gold in the ribbon final

Thanks to Frankie Jones and her remarkable success at the Commonwealth Games, Wales seemed to turn into a country full of rhythmic gymnastics experts.

A hitherto marginal sport was thrust into the limelight as Jones, 24, ended her career by winning one gold medal and five silvers to become the most successful individual Welsh athlete in Glasgow.

Wales' flag bearer at the opening ceremony, Jones won silver after silver until finally clinching the elusive gold in the ribbons, before winning the David Dixon Award for outstanding athlete of the Games.

Jones was second to Geraint Thomas in the vote for BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year, and she was joined on the shortlist by another of Wales' outstanding female athletes at the Commonwealth Games, Natalie Powell.

Powell, who also won gold at the World Grand Prix in October, claimed Wales' first judo gold in the history of the Commonwealth Games as she beat Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons in the final.

It wasn't all glory for Wales in Glasgow. Before the Games had even started, athletes Gareth Warburton and Rhys Williams failed drugs tests.

Both deny knowingly taking any banned substance and are expected to hear the outcome of an anti-doping case in January.

Football: Cardiff gamble on Solskjaer

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan (L) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and chairman Mehmet Dalman (R)
Cardiff owner Vincent Tan (L) with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and chairman Mehmet Dalman (R)

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan is no stranger to controversy, and his decision to sack manager Malky Mackay prompted a furious reaction from the club's supporters.

They were appeased to some extent when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - who scored a Champions League winning goal for Manchester United in 1999 - was hired as Mackay's successor on 2 January.

It was seen as a risky appointment for both parties, with Cardiff entrusting a relative managerial novice with their hopes of Premier League survival and Solskjaer risking his burgeoning reputation by taking on a difficult job.

The gamble did not pay off, with Solskjaer leaving Cardiff on 18 September after an unsuccessful start to the Championship season following their relegation from the Premier League.

Russell Slade was chosen as Solskjaer's successor, and the former Leyton Orient and Yeovil manager faces a daunting task trying to return Cardiff to the top flight.

Football: A sour end to Laudrup's Swansea reign

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I was sacked by email - Laudrup

When Cardiff appointed Champions League winner Solskjaer, their great rivals Swansea City already had a European champion at the helm.

Former Barcelona player Michael Laudrup won the League Cup in his first season in charge of the Swans, and his second term seemed to be going well with players and fans relishing a Europa League campaign which featured a famous 3-0 win away at Valencia.

Things soured swiftly, however, as results nosedived and Laudrup's relationship with chairman Huw Jenkins deteriorated.

The Dane was sacked on 4 February after a 2-0 defeat to West Ham and replaced by Garry Monk, leaving Laudrup to reflect on a bitter end to his reign.

Swimming: Jazz Carlin and Georgia Davies' historic double gold

European 800m champion Jazz Carlin

You wait 40 years for a swimming gold medal at the Commonwealth Games - then two arrive at once.

Jazz Carlin first became the first Welsh female swimmer for 40 years to win gold in the Commonwealth Games in the 800m freestyle, followed by silver in the 400m the next day.

Minutes after Carlin's silver, her former training partner at Swansea, Georgia Davies, was victorious in the 50m backstroke, securing their places on the shortlist for BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year.

Gold in Glasgow was the crowning glory of a particularly successful year for Carlin, who won two golds in the European Long Course Championships and was named British Swimming Athlete of the Year for 2014.

Football: Ramsey's 'dream comes true' at Wembley

Aaron Ramsey
Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey joined Arsenal from Cardiff City in 2008

Aaron Ramsey has made a habit of scoring important and spectacular goals, and few in his career will be as significant as the one which sealed Arsenal's first major trophy for nine years.

Arsenal had fought back from a two-goal deficit against Hull City to force the FA Cup into extra time, and the revival was complete when Ramsey's sweet first-time strike flew into the net in the 109th minute.

The Wales midfielder has since grabbed headlines for eye-catching goals such as a stunning long-range effort against Galatasaray, but it is his FA Cup-winning strike which will define Ramsey's fine 2014.

It is little wonder Ramsey described the moment as a "dream come true".

Football: Bale clinches Real Madrid's 'La Decima'

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale celebrates Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final

Gareth Bale's £85m move to Real Madrid made him the most expensive player in the world, so the pressure on him to deliver was considerable.

After an injury-hampered start to life at the Bernabeu, the Wales forward proved his worth with a spectacular winner against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final.

And the crowning moment of an excellent debut season in Spain came when he gave Real the lead in the Champions League final.

Bale was also integral to Wales' strong start in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, but it was the goal to clinch Real's 10th European Cup, 'La Decima', which was the highlight of a stellar 2014.

Read Part Two on Tuesday, 30 December at bbc.co.uk/sportwales.

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