Cwmaman Welsh athletics great Ron Jones honoured
When Ron Jones first began training on the athletics track in Aberdare as a youngster, little could he imagine it would one day be named in his honour.
Now 84, the former world record holder has returned to his old track to open a new £3m athletics stadium.
“I would have been a better sprinter if I had a facility like this,” he said.
It comes 60 years since he first pulled on a Welsh vest when Cardiff hosted the Empire Games in 1958.
Mr Jones, who grew up nearby in Cwmaman, Rhondda Cynon Taff, said he was “overwhelmed” at the honour and hopes the track will inspire the next Welsh sprint star.
“It is a wonderful facility. The choice is incredible. I am very honoured as is my family,” he said.
“Running is a natural thing. That track is yelling out ‘come and run on me’ so I hope people can emulate what I did. That would be wonderful.”
Mr Jones remains one of Wales’ greatest athletes having won 12 national sprint titles between 1956 and 1970.
He competed at three Olympic games and was part of the Great Britain 4×110 yards relay team that set a world record in 1963.
This month Mr Jones helped celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cardiff hosting the Commonwealth Games – then called the Empire Games.
Just three years after it became the capital of Wales, Cardiff hosted the sixth and biggest games to date.
The National Stadium hosted athletics events while boxing and archery took place at the city’s cricket ground and cycling held at the newly laid track at Maindy Stadium, where this year’s Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas first took up the sport.
However, the only space big enough to house the 1,130 athletes and 228 officials was at the RAF base at St Athan, outside the city.
“It was a wonderful event, even though it felt like the make-do games,” recalled Mr Jones.
“We even had to stay at the RAF base where I had been stationed six years earlier. We slept in the barracks and ate in the officers mess. Though the food was a lot better than when I was stationed there.
“It was all very amateur and a little clumsy, but the warmth of the Welsh reception made a mark on everyone involved.”
The Cardiff Games introduced the Queen’s Baton Relay, a tradition that has preceded every Empire and Commonwealth Games since.
At the closing ceremony, it was announced Prince Charles would become Prince of Wales.