Unbeaten this year as an under-17, Bethan Rees tells AW her goals

Welsh under-17 500g and 600g javelin record-holder Bethan Rees was undefeated in her age group in Britain this year and, having been Welsh champion in her category every year since 2011, the 16-year-old is no stranger to winning.

Her 50.64m launch at an international throws meeting in Portugal in July also places her second on the UK all-time under-17 list with the 500g implement. The only athlete above her, incidentally, is her training partner and the UK’s top under-20 javelin thrower this year, Emma Hamplett, who in 2014 threw 57.14m as an under-17.

Credit should be given to the girls’ coach at Cannock & Stafford AC, Mark Pinner, as Emma and Bethan are not only the top two under-17 athletes of all-time, but also the respective senior and intermediate javelin champions from this year’s English Schools.

Having twice won silver in the English Schools, Bethan was delighted to take top spot this year with her first 50-metre throw. “It was awesome to win English Schools and I had been waiting a long time to throw over 50m, so to do it at such a prestigious event was amazing,” she said. “I was really pleased that my coach and parents were there to see it.”

The teenager was really pleased to pull on the England kit and take victory the week afterwards at the SIAB Schools International, but her best moment this season came at another international event.

She said: “I must admit that my proudest moment in the sport was being selected for the senior Welsh Athletics team for the Loughborough International in May, where I threw against Jessica Ennis-Hill. It was unbelievable to be sharing the run-up with my all-time role model.”

After having also won the England Athletics title and having dominated under-17 javelin competitions this year, Bethan is already setting herself future goals, having improved her PB with the heavier 600g implement to 46.80m in 2016.

“Next year it will be my first year as an under-20, so I move up to the 600g javelin permanently,” she said. “I would like to continue to improve my PB to over 50m and I will be aiming to qualify to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games in 2018, although I realise this will be hard to meet. I also want to enjoy the journey, as several people have advised me to.”

Part of a strong training squad led by Pinner, Bethan trains at Cannock & Stafford’s base in Rowley Park in Stafford. “We train outdoors all year round, as we have no indoor facilities and we have a 3G pitch in the middle of the track, so the javelin run-up is quite far from the actual track,” she said.

She has also recently joined a gym in Stafford called Gym & Tonic for her weights training, much to her mum’s delight. “I no longer need to use our conservatory as a weights room so my mum is pleased!” said Bethan.

Although she enjoys the variety in training, it is of little surprise that it is the act of throwing that she enjoys most. “I just love it when I manage to put into practice the latest improvement I have been working on and make my javelin fly smoothly through the air,” she said.

Coming from a sporting family, Bethan has done a range of sports for school and does sprinting as part of her throws training. Her dad was a county sprinter in school and was in the Royal Navy rugby team.

As a family they have always done sport together, such as cycling and swimming. In addition, vortex throwing seemed to pay off as it was throwing a foam javelin a long way in a sportshall competition in primary school that first got Bethan noticed and she subsequently went along to the club.

“Mark has now been my coach for six years and has taken me from someone who had never thrown a proper javelin to being a full Welsh International and an English Schools international athlete,” she said. “I can’t thank him enough for the time and effort he has put into coaching and supporting me.”

Bethan has benefitted from being part of the Welsh development squad for about five years, where she has had access to advice on training, nutrition and injury prevention. Recalling a funny story from when she first joined, she said: “We had a talk about drugs testing, which involved them selecting an athlete, then taking them off to get a urine sample. They then brought the sample back in and one of the adults said he was going to test it and promptly drank it! I remember my initial horror, but we realised it was apple juice. On a more serious note, Welsh Athletics have provided me with excellent experience in international competition and I am extremely grateful to them for helping me.”

You can find further performance stats on Bethan on Power of 10 here.

» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk