Congratulations to Welsh cyclist Nicole Cooke for winning a Gold Medal at the Olympics today.
Nicole, from the Vale of Glamorgan, was the first Welsh athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics for over 30 years, but I am sure that Wales would have many more medals, if Wales had an Olympics team, and more Welsh athletes were given the chance to shine on the greatest sporting stage of all.
Nicole is one of only 14 Welsh athletes, out of a GB group containing 312. It doesn't take a mathematician to see that Wales is poorly represented, and that many more Welsh athletes would be in Beijing this year if Wales had its own Olympics team.
OK, Wales is not an independent country (yet!), but are Palestine and Hong Kong Independent countries? Both have teams competing at this year's Olympics!
Wales is too small to have a team many sceptics will shout, but there are many smaller nations than Wales who have teams competing at the Olympics. Not enough athletes? Well we have 14 in the British team; some countries are only represented by one or two athletes.
Welsh athletes would certainly NOT be at a disadvantage if they represented Wales instead of GB. Most of the sports are individual sports, and for the team events, hardly any Welsh athletes are represented at the moment. The GB Football team at the 2012 Olympics will be full of Englishmen, as the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FA's refuse to take part. If Wales had it's own team at the Olympics, think of the wonderful under 23 football team that could represent us in 2012. Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter, Sam Vokes, Ched Evans, Lewin Nyatanga, Wayne Henessey and Aaron Ramsey.
To make matters worse, a very large sum of money that was supposed to come to Wales (estimated at around £100 million) will go to London instead to pay for “Britain’s” 2012 Olympics. It Wales had its own Olympics team, this money would have stayed in Wales.
The Welsh flag has even been banned from the Olympics this year, with flags from competing countries only allowed. That's why Nicole Cooke wasn't even allowed to hold the Welsh flag after her superb victory today. Her National Anthem (Hen Wlad fy Nhadau) is also banned at the Olympics, and she had to listen to God Save the Queen, with the Union Jack (that doesn't represent Wales by the way!) flying above.
It’s about time Wales had an Olympics team. Contact your local politicians to ask them to campaign on your behalf!
Below is an excellent article that appeared in the Western Mail a few days ago:
Give us our own Olympic team
Aug 7 2008 by Our Correspondent, Western Mail
In light of the ban on the Welsh flag in the Olympics, Dr Geraint Tudur, general secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents, argues it is time Wales was given a separate team
BANNING Welsh medal-winners from draping themselves in the Red Dragon flag during victory celebrations at Beijing is an absolute disgrace. It undermines our nationhood and is an insult to the Welsh people.
Indeed, we feel that this is contrary to the Olympic Charter itself which insists on “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles”. As Christians in Wales, we believe that God has created us as a nation to serve him, and that our existence is a cause for celebration. Any action which diminishes or rejects our identity is to be deplored.
Potential Welsh medal-winners, such as swimmers David Davies and Jemma Lowe, and cyclist Geraint Thomas, must be allowed to celebrate their achievement by waving the flag of their country.
It is very sad, but relevant, that this story should have broken in the press during National Eisteddfod week at Cardiff. The massive financial burden of holding the Olympic Games in London in 2012 has already thrown a shadow over Welsh cultural events – including the eisteddfodau.
The “National” is the pinnacle of a pyramid of smaller eisteddfodau held in village halls, schools, chapel and church vestries throughout the length and breadth of Wales. These local eisteddfodau are the breeding ground for the formidable talent that maintains the high standard of the National Eisteddfod.
But the society which does so much to promote the local eisteddfod, Cymdeithas Eisteddfodau Cymru, has had to curtail its activities drastically after losing grant aid – as a direct result of Lottery Heritage funding being diverted into the financial black hole that is the 2012 London Olympics. Village eisteddfodau and other cultural events are threatened. Many are held in our chapels, and are part of both our Welsh and Christian heritage.
This is happening because the cost of the London Olympics has risen to nearly £10bn – four times the original estimate. And so, the Welsh Peter is being robbed to pay the London Paul.
Earlier this year, the then Welsh Heritage Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, estimated that Wales would lose £70m between 2009 and 2012. Adam Price MP put the loss at well over £100m. Losing grant aid will have a devastating effect on charities, societies and services in Wales.
As Mr Price said, it is totally unfair that some of the poorest communities in Wales will be paying towards the rejuvenation of part of the richest city in Europe.
Independent Chapel members throughout Wales are horrified by this injustice. At our annual meetings at Swansea last month, members accepted a motion from West Carmarthenshire chapels expressing outrage at the way in which Wales is being milked of money to pay for the 2012 Olympics, at a time when the Welsh language and our nation’s community life is already fragile.
To add insult to the financial injury, successful Welsh athletes at Beijing will now have to mount the winners’ podium beneath the Union flag, to the strains of God Save the Queen.
Of course, this situation would not arise if Wales was allowed to compete as a nation in future Olympic Games. In view of the financial injury and the political insult, we feel that this is the only reasonable course of action.
I have, on behalf of the Union of Welsh Independent Chapels, written to the Welsh Assembly Government, asking them to press on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Wales to compete as a nation in its own right in the London Olympics.
Would you like to see a “British” Rugby Union team or a “Great Britain” football side in the World Cup? In these days of devolution surely it is time for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to compete as separate teams in the Olympic Games. And what would it matter if Wales came 67th in the medal table? (GB only managed 10th last time!) Surely our self-respect and rights as a nation on the world stage should come first.
The Union of Welsh Independents represents some 30,000 Christians in 450 chapels. Since 1872, the Union has taken a radical stance on a range of spiritual, moral and social subjects.