Recalling the stars of the Empire Games; Views of Wales.
A COUPLE of points to add to the excellent piece in the Western Mail recently.
The picture top left was in fact Paulo and Valerie Davies - the only Welsh competitors - about to leave for the first Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Hamilton, Ontario. Both were in the swimming events. Here is a clip from a Hamilton newspaper at the time: "An effort that drew unstinted applause from the crowd was the effort of Paulo Radmilovich, Wales, in the first heat. The man is well in his fortieth year and yet he swam a dazzling race to place third in his heat."
Valerie Davies: Talk of Jazz Carlin... but Valerie (married name Latham) was the first Welsh swimming superstar. She won three medals in Hamilton (two silver and one bronze) and also won two bronze medals in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Born in Cardiff in 1912, she died in Newport in 2001. She also won a bronze in the 1934 Empire Games in London.
Incidentally, at those first Empire Games in Canada, Pembroke Dockborn Reg Thomas won the mile and finished second in the half. But he ran for England as Wales didn't have a national athletics body at the time so he was unable to represent Wales.
This was corrected in 1934, as by then an Empire Games Council for Wales had been formed. Thomas ran in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics and was the British number-one miler and record-holder in the early 1930s.
Hawarden-born Howard Ford also competed for England in 1930, winning a silver medal in the pole vault.
Clive Williams Editor of The History of Welsh Athletics Winchester