Commonwealth Games 2018: Footballers 'raised bar' for Team Wales

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Team Wales boss: Footballers 'raised the bar' for Commonwealth athletes

The woman leading Team Wales at next year's Commonwealth Games says they want to emulate the unprecedented success of the men's football team at Euro 2016.

Professor Nicola Phillips will take a team of more than 100 Welsh athletes out to the Gold Coast, Australia, from 4 to 15 April 2018.

She told BBC Sport Wales she believes it can be Wales' most successful overseas Commonwealths yet.

"Twenty-six would be the most medals we've ever had in an away Games and that would be fantastic," said Professor Phillips, who was a physiotherapist with Team Wales when they won 25 medals in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1990.

"I think it's a far-reaching target but it's something we should be striving for. What's the point in striving for something that's easily achievable?

"Having said that, if we win 20 medals (more than Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010) we would still have had a very good Games."

Wales at the Commonwealth Games
Most medals won by Team Wales36 at Glasgow 2014
Most medals won by Team Wales at an overseas Games25 at Auckland 1990
Medals won by Team Wales at previous two overseas Games19 at both Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010

Phillips believes the men's footballers showed her team what is possible with their remarkable run to the semi-finals of the 2016 European Championships.

"I think the Welsh men's football team did an amazing job - and not just with their performance on the field, which was outstanding," Phillips continued.

"What they did to engage the fans, what they did to bring the country together. They set a fantastic role model for how a team should be.

"The FAW [Football Association of Wales] raised the bar and used that public enthusiasm. We want to capture that feeling and take it on."

Following Glasgow

Team Wales came away from Glasgow three years ago with 36 medals - the most a Wales team has ever won.

Although 220 athletes travelled to Scotland then, in 2018 the team will be capped at 108.

This total does not include team sports such as rugby sevens and netball, para-sports or weightlifting, which is trialling a new selection process based on Commonwealth rankings.

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Methuen wants Commonwealth medal

One of the athletes hoping to make the final team is hammer thrower Carys Parry.

The 36-year-old from Rhondda Cynon Taf won silver at Delhi 2010 and is aiming for her fourth Commonwealth Games.

"After Glasgow I was going to retire," she admitted. "But I didn't really perform as well as I'd have liked to.

"I've always felt like I could throw over 70 metres (her Welsh record is 66.80) and I still feel I can do it.

"Competing for Wales is a big, big thing for me so any time there's an opportunity to get to the Commonwealths I'm going to try to take it."

From GCSEs to Commonwealth Games

Another hopeful is 16-year-old gymnast Maisie Methuen.

In her first season on the senior circuit, she beat Rio 2016 Olympian and Strictly Come Dancing star Claudia Fragapane to floor gold at the British Championships.

"It was really surreal," she said. "It did boost my confidence but I can't just lay back now.

"The Commonwealths are a big competition for Wales and to go there with my country would be crazy.

"If my training goes well hopefully I could come away with a medal and our team could come away with a medal."

Athletes have until the end of November to achieve the qualifying standards set by the individual sports.

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