|* Ken Skates AM.|
Assembly Member Ken Skates has called for more joined-up thinking in training the local Olympic athletes of tomorrow.
Mr Skates said the medal haul achieved by North East Wales athletes like Tom James, Chris Bartley and Jade Jones proved that shared access to elite training centres in the North West of England had been crucial to their success.
The Clwyd South AM said more thought needed to be given to developing elite training venues in North East Wales as well as giving talented young athletes greater access to world class training and support over the border.
Both the Welsh and UK Governments have said they want to capitalise on the success of the games and the AM said a cross-border strategy to develop elite sport in Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire would pay dividends.
Mr Skates said: “The huge success of our athletes from North East Wales at the Olympic Games has been an inspiration to us all. Many of them use training venues in the North West of England such as Jade Jones who trains at the GB Taekwondo Academy in Manchester on the World Class Performance Programme.
“The Welsh and UK Governments have both signalled the importance of future sporting success and to re-working their strategies for sport to encourage success at the Rio games in 2016. We need to think about how we can improve our sporting infrastructure in North East Wales and make it easier for local athletes to benefit from the facilities and training that can breed further success.
“A large part of this should be seeing the cross-border links that have developed and strengthening them. As a cross-border region including the North West we have some of the best cycling, rowing, martial arts, curling, skating, canoeing, sailing, climbing and football venues in Britain.
“All of our future medal winners need to train at world class venues and where they can be developed or enhanced at places such as Glyndwr University or the Racecourse I will be encouraging us to do that. However we also need to utilise the facilities on our doorstep across the border too.
“This will not only benefit our future Olympians from North East Wales but also help us attract talented young athletes from the North West of England to train here. As far as participation in sport is concerned, the border is irrelevant and co-operation is critically important.
“I would encourage councils, sports organisations and governments to work together more than ever before on facilities that people on both sides of the border can use together.”
Mr Skates said a regional strategy for elite sports development should be examined, with North East Wales working with Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.
A Wales North East/England North West strategy could deliver enormous improvements for the development of elite and grassroots sport.
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