Wales Virtual Institute of Sport Health & Exercise Sciences


Dame Tanni Grey Thompson OBE MBE

Tanni is one of Britain's greatest athletes and its most successful paralympic athlete ever: she has won 11 gold medals at the Paralympic Games. Tanni has twice been voted Welsh Sports Personality of the Year and in 2001 was admitted to the Welsh Sports Academy Hall of Fame. Although Tanni now lives in England, her roots are firmly entrenched in Wales and she is a frequent visitor to the principality.

Tanni does an enormous amount of work to support and develop sport in the UK. Among other roles, she is a patron of the British Sports Trust, a member of the UK Sports Council, the Vice President of the Women's Sports Foundation and Assistant Head of the 'Programme for the DisABILITY World Class Potential Plan' run by UK Athletics.


Note: The following is the start of what will be an enlarging list of Patrons (both individuals and organisations) who have kindly lent their name to support the 'The Virtual Institute'.

Tim Benjamin

European no. 1 track & field athlete at 400m in 2005 and three-time, British senior champion. Tim was ranked No. 2 in the world in the 2005 IAAF rankings and is a former World U18 and European junior Champion. Tim is an ambassador to the Prince's Trust, a supporter of 'SuperSchools' and of Action Medical Research (Sporting Partners).

Michaela Breeze

Michaela is one of Wales's most successful weightlifters. She won 3 medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 (including a Gold medal in the snatch) and she won a further Gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Michaela also won a bronze medal at the European Senior Championships in Greece in 2003 and 2006 and competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Gareth Davies

Former Wales and British Lion rugby player. Gareth gained most of his international caps as a fly-half in partnership with Terry Holmes. He captained Wales on 5 occasions, and his career has included being Chairman of the Sports Council for Wales, a former Head of BBC Sport, the current Welsh affairs director of the Royal Mail Group, the Chief Executive of Cardiff Athletic Club/Cardiff Rugby Club and a commissioning editor for Sports and Events at S4C.

Lynn Davies MBE

President of UK Athletics, 'Lynn the Leap' is Wales's only Olympic Gold Medallist at track & field. He won the long jump title in the 1964 Tokyo Games and his jump of 8.23m was the British record for 33 years. Lynn is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) - one of the stakeholder institutions of 'The Virtual Institute'...

Gareth Edwards MBE

Gareth is one of the all-time greats of Welsh rugby - an ever-present figure in Welsh rugby’s finest decade (53 consecutive caps) and one of the key figures in the British Lions side that won the 1971 series against the New Zealand All Blacks. In 1973, Gareth scored what is still today regarded as one of the finest tries ever witnessed in rugby union - for the Barbarians against the All Blacks. Gareth is a golfer and an accomplished fisherman and in his schooldays was an international hurdler.

Kevin Evans

Kevin is one of Wales's most successful amateur boxers. He has won 2 bronze medals and a silver medal at 3 consecutive Commonwealth Games as well as being a World Championship bronze medallist. He has been the 4 Nations Champion and has been Welsh Champion since 1997. Kevin retired from competition following the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and remains a great ambassador for his sport.

Dave Haller

One of Britain's top swimming coaches and the coach to the City of Cardiff Swimming Club. Dave was the Sports Council for Wales Coach of the Year 2004 and has coached former Olympic champions Duncan Goodhew and David Wilkie. His current star pupil is David Davies who won a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Mark Hughes

Former Welsh international football player and former Welsh team manager who hails from Ruabon, near Wrexham. ‘Sparky’ has played for Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Everton, Southampton and Blackburn Rovers (where he is currently manager) and is the only player to have won 4 cup winners medals.

Huw Jones

Dr Huw Jones has been Chief Executive of the Sports Council for Wales since January 1998. Prior to that he was Director of Policy Planning with responsibility for strategic planning, research and information. He worked for the (GB) Sports Council during the 1980's and was a consultant to the Council of Europe on the economic impact of sport. He has a PhD and a Masters degree in econometrics and a degree in economics. He was once county triple jump champion and played semi-professional football in North Wales and Manchester.

Julia Longville

Welsh netball coach. Julia is also the Director of Netball at the University of Wales in Cardiff (UWIC). She has guided the Welsh team to qualification at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Richard Vaughan

British no. 1 badminton player. Bronze medallist at the European Championships in 2000 and in the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Richard is a great ambassador for the sport of badminton in Wales and the 'Richard Vaughan Academy' was launched in the borough of Caerphilly in September 2005. This seeks to promote the progression of promising young players from club to international level.

Nigel Walker

BBC Wales Head of Sport, Sports Broadcaster and former Olympic athlete (110m hurdles). Nigel played rugby union in school, and turned to it again after retiring from athletics. He quickly established himself as one of the fastest ever wings to represent Wales at international level.

Steve Watkin

Steve hails from Maesteg, is a former England test cricketer and was a key member of the Glamorgan CCC team which won the County championship in1997. He was voted Player of the Year for Glamorgan twice (in 1989 and 1993) and was the Wisden Player of the Year in 1994. He retired from playing in 2001 to take up a position as Director of the Welsh Cricket Academy.

JJ Williams

Former Wales and British Lion rugby player. "JJ" as he is commonly called was one of the fastest players in world rugby and indeed he represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. All of JJ's children have represented Wales and Track & Field Athletics and his son Rhys is the current British no. 1 400m hurdler.

JPR Williams MBE

Former Wales rugby union legend. Widely regarded as Wales's greatest ever fullback and a key member of the only British Lions team to win a series in New Zealand (1971). John was also a highly talented tennis player before he decided to concentrate on rugby, for he won Junior Wimbledon in 1966. John is a retired consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

Rhys Williams

Rhys is currently Britain's leading 400m hurdler and the Welsh record holder. He is the reigning European U23 champion, competed in the 2005 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki and came 4th representing Wales in the recent Commonwealth Games at Melbourne - lowering his personal best for the event on 3 occasions. Rhys is the son of JJ Williams.