By Steve Howell
One of Wales’s most talented footballing exports was hailed by many as man of the match as GB beat Uruguay 1-0 at a packed Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Day 5 of the Olympics.
Aaron Ramsey, who was signed by Arsenal for £5m in 2008 after making only 16 first team appearances for Cardiff City, was the influential midfield hub of a team captained by fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy.
If GB can defeat South Korea when they return to Cardiff on Saturday, they will reach the last four and be guaranteed a bronze medal match at the very least.
Meanwhile, the action begins at the Olympic Stadium itself with the start of the track and field competition on Day 7 (August 3, 2012) when GB will again be led by a Welshman, Dai Greene.
Altogether there are 30 Welsh sports men and women in the GB team at the Olympics, beating the previous record of 27 at the London Games in 1908 (which included an entire hockey team). And the Paralympics in September will see a further 38 Welsh participants.
“It’s a huge achievement for Wales to have 30 athletes selected for the Olympics and 38 for the Paralympics,” said Sarah Powell, corporate director at Sport Wales.
“These are the highest standard British squads in history and the athletes have needed to produce high class performances to be selected. When you look at the individuals you see World champions, Commonwealth champions, British champions – we are sending a high calibre of athlete to compete with the best other countries have to offer.”
Greene, who runs for Swansea Harriers and is from Felinfoel in Carmarthenshire, is aiming for gold in the 400m hurdles, the heats of which are during the first track session.
He made a slow start to the season after minor knee surgery in the winter and has been beaten three times this year by his arch rival Javier Culson of Puerto Rico.
But Greene came into form in Paris in July with a personal best of 47.84sec and is now widely fancied to become the first Welsh athlete to take gold at the Olympics since Lynn Davies won the long jump in Tokyo in 1964.
The GB track and field team includes five Welsh athletes, compared to only two at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
As well as Greene, the Welsh contingent features the veteran of our Olympics Christian Malcolm (200m and 4x100m relay) and debutants Brett Morse (discus), Rhys Williams (400m hurdles) and Gareth Warburton (800m).
“With 68 Welsh competitors travelling to the Olympics and Paralympics there is a tremendous pride in the success of Wales as a sporting nation,” said Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales. “The challenge now is to reflect this positivity into increased participation among all communities.”