Andrew Davies says he is proud to be representing Wales and Montgomeryshire, after being chosen to represent his country at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Competing in the marathon at the Gold Coast, Andrew is one of two Newtown College staff members heading out to Australia in April.
The sports lecturer will be joined by Hazel Wilson on the plane, who combines her role as Study Support Assistant Manager with being Team Manager of the Wales Women’s Bowls Team.
It has already been a great start to 2018 for Andrew, who was recently named Montgomeryshire Sports Personality of the Year at their annual awards ceremony.
This is Andrew’s second Commonwealth Games, after competing in Glasgow in 2014. That in itself was a great experience, and a year where he made history.
Looking back on the event, he says: “That was the first major competition that I’ve been to. I have been to a lot of mountain running ones, the world championships, but there’s 15-20 countries competing in them.
“This was a lot bigger, grander really. It was unbelievable. I was the first Welshman for 16 years to compete for Wales in the marathon, so it had been a long gap!
“Just to get the opportunity to go was good. I knew that I wasn’t going to win it or be near the top, but it was just a matter of getting around in a good time and representing the country well.
“On the Sunday morning in Glasgow, it was pretty cold and windy so I thought, ‘oh there won’t be many Welsh up here supporting’.
“But it was incredible. All the way around there were Welsh flags, and ‘come on Wales!’ I was thinking ‘how do they know I was even running?’ It was pretty crazy.”
Andrew went on to finish 17th in the race, with a respectable time of 2 hours and 19 minutes in tough conditions.
Four years on, he’s looking to “step up a bit and compete a bit better. A top eight position, possibly top six.”
It’s been a marathon in more than one sense of the word for the 38 year old, who says he never imagined he would go from running through Montgomeryshire to the Gold Coast.
“I used to coach myself,” he said. “My brother in law was always a keen runner, we were just making up sessions. I was trying to put in as many miles as I could, but I was playing football at the time as well.
“I got down to 2:25 on my own, which is still a big gap. To get to this level you need 2:15 so having a coach has definitely helped.
“I went to the Commonwealth Games in 2006 in Melbourne as a spectator and was like ‘wow, these athletes are amazing’, what they do and everything.
“To look back now, what I was thinking then, and being able to say I have gone to two is quite weird. I used to look up to those athletes going to the Commonwealth Games and now I’m going!”
With the experience of major events behind him, you could say Andrew is used to the idea of representing Wales.
But each moment he gets to run for his country and county fills him with just as much pride.
“It’s great (to run for Wales) but I’m representing Montgomeryshire as well, I love Montgomeryshire,” he said. “I do all my training here. I don’t like the weather some days I must admit, it’s quite hard when it’s chucking it down!
“But to represent Wales is great. Nowadays we don’t have many opportunities to compete for Wales, it’s usually a British thing.
“To have the chance to run for Wales doesn’t happen very often so it’s unbelievable.”
So, just how much longer does Andrew think he can run for?
“I am getting on now in terms of marathon running, 38 but as long as my body is holding on I want to keep going as long as possible,” he said.
“When the announcements of Birmingham come out in 4 years’ time, I was wondering what the selection criteria will be! I might have a sniff at that again.
“I’m just going to keep doing them year after year and see if my body is still in one piece!”