Croft twins aiming for gold at the Commonwealth Games

Friday 15th July 2022 8:05 am
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Welsh Boxing - Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Team
Zoe Andrews
©Steve Pope
Boxing brothers Ioan and Garan Croft (SPORTINGWALES )

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Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Welsh Boxing has revealed it is aiming to improve on its medal tally from four years ago.

And Cardigan twins, Ioan and Garan Croft, 20, are certainly up for the challenge, having won medals at the European Under 22 Championships this summer.

Light middleweight Ioan said: “I’m very excited for the Games. It’s only two weeks away now. The gold medal is definitely the aim. It’s a target I’ve been looking at for over three years now so really excited for it.”

The journey started for the twins at the boxing gym in Cardigan they were eight.

“I’ve never looked back. I’ve been going down twice a week for the last 12 years,” added Ioan.

And he has also been really pleased with the support he’s been handed by Welsh Boxing:

“It’s been superb. We’ve been on the weekend camps here in Cardiff since we were about 11. I joined the full-time programme in 2019 and they could really see the improvements in me from then. Training full-time has been excellent.”

Garan is in a higher bodyweight category, at welterweight.

He said: “It’s getting very real now. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s our first Commonwealth Games – we’re 20 so we weren’t old enough to go to the last one.

“It’s a new experience for us. It means the world to all of us here (in the Welsh Boxing team) to pull the Welsh vest on – it’s a special feeling to be representing your country at a Commonwealth Games and I feel privileged to be doing it.”

Welsh Boxing is certainly booming with talents like the twins. Welsh Boxing performance director Chris Type and Wales national coach Colin Jones spelt out how a full-time, residential programme for Welsh Boxing is reaping the rewards in the ring.

In the last three years, Welsh Boxing’s fortunes have flourished. Lauren Price became Wales’ first ever World Champion and first-ever Olympic Champion. And Welsh boxers have won medals from the Senior and Under 22 European Championships.

Type said: “Currently, we have the highest number of boxers we’ve ever had on the GB programme – Wales makes up 20% of the programme - and the majority of those are on the highest level of support. That’s an astonishing piece of the pie for a small nation.”

Welsh boxers returned home from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with four medals, led by Lauren Price who made history by becoming Wales’ first female boxer to win gold.

But despite the impressive two golds, a silver and a bronze from Welsh boxers in Australia, national coach Colin Jones is confident they can improve on the tally in Birmingham.

“In the Gold Coast, we were incredibly proud of what we achieved and the results actually put Wales fourth on the boxing medal table,” says Jones who became British, Commonwealth and European welterweight champion.

Lauren Price of course won’t feature for Wales this summer after turning professional but Jones remains upbeat about Wales’ chances:

“We’re very ambitious and we think we can improve on our achievements in the Gold Coast. And that’s really down to the fact that seven years ago we completely redesigned our programme. We’ve been able to achieve a full time, residential programme at the Sport Wales National Centre for boxers that aren’t yet part of the GB set-up.

“Before this, our boxers were spread out across Wales and we’d meet up at camps but now it’s much more consistent and we are with the boxers week in, week out,” adds Jones, who stays on site with the boxers from Monday to Thursday.

Type – who came into post as performance director seven years ago – added: “We have so much more contact time with the boxers now. It means our best boxers are with the best coaches. Colin leads the boxing side of the programme and his vast knowledge and understanding of what it takes to develop a boxer to international level is quite incredible.”

Working alongside Sport Wales’ Institute team, Welsh Boxing ensures its talents are managing nutrition, lifestyle, sleep patterns and weight management:

“You don’t see all this on the day of the competition but it’s absolutely critical in developing a brilliant boxer,” added Type.

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