Club night ventures into Wales for the first time with a visit to the capital city of Cardiff
The club traces its origins back to 1882 when it became the first athletics club in Wales. Going under the name of Roath (Cardiff) Harriers, its headquarters were at the Royal Oak public house.
Roath Harriers officials arranged the first cross country championships on March 7, 1894, with their own club runners winning both the individual and team titles.
During the first 40 or so years the club had virtually no facilities for track and field competition and Roath was initially known as a cross-country club, until Maindy Stadium was opened in 1951. This coincided with the formation of a rival club, Birchgrove Harriers, which quickly attracted good-quality athletes. Both clubs co-existed in friendly rivalry, sharing the stadium as their headquarters until in 1986 the two clubs amalgamated to form Cardiff Amateur Athletic Club.
Cardiff AAC has continued to go from strength-to-strength and make major contributions to Welsh and indeed international athletics ever since.
A roll call of some of the club’s most successful athletes shows the popularity of the set-up as a majority of these still have some form of connection. They include: Lynn Davies, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Nigel Walker, Jamie Baulch and Christian Malcolm (pictured), and current members Rhys Williams, Brett Morse and Ryan Spencer-Jones to name but a few.
Training for members takes place on Monday and Thursday evenings at Cardiff International Sports Stadium, located to the west of the city and just across the road from Cardiff City FC’s stadium. With the newly upgraded and appointed academy, junior members take over the track from 6pm until 7pm. This is proving to be extremely popular with the local community and has meant the club having to increase its band of dedicated coaches via a recruitment drive.
Qualified coaches provide a structured introduction to athletics and members experience the full range of athletic events and learn about training techniques. A large team of volunteers works in the clubhouse to run the café for those important snacks and hot drinks to support the athletes, coaches and parents, especially on the cold and wet winter nights.
The club has a team of positive, dedicated volunteers working in and around the office and club room, dealing with the numerous enquiries to join and find out about upcoming events or simply to offer assistance.
A dedicated band of team managers and officials support the club at competitions. This group of volunteers regularly turn out time after time with their invaluable backing and if it were not for them the events would not take place.
The club is promoted via a dedicated website and Facebook page with regular updates, news and reminders of events and also recognises athlete success in their “Athlete of the Month” award chosen by the committee members, team managers and coaches.
The academy sessions are designed to be fun and provide a broad experience across different events, starting with how to train properly and safely, warm-up and cool-down procedures and track etiquette.
At the appropriate time, the academy athletes will progress to a specialist training group under the supervision of one of the highly qualified specialist coaches. This stage of coaching is delivered from 7pm until around 9pm from at least 18 of the team of dedicated and supportive coaches. The track and field areas on these nights are extremely active with members fully focused on training to their optimum levels.
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