Cast your mind back four years to London 2012, and the historic medal haul brought home by the members of Team GB. North Wales sports give you the opportunity to emulate your heroes!
Welsh competitors had what was thought to be an ambitious target, aiming for 6-10 medals in total from London and Rio 2016 combined and they smashed it with seven medals in 2012 alone! Wales celebrated as local talent, Jade Jones (taekwondo), Tom James (rowing) and Geraint Thomas (cycling) brought home the silverware – or gold, in Jade’s case!
It’s really true to say they brought the medals home, too, as all 4,700 London 2012 medals were pressed at the Royal Mint in Wales, by a specially built machine nicknamed Colossus.
Fancy following in the footsteps of our homegrown Olympians? Why not try your hand at some heroic North Wales sports this summer?
1. North Wales sports: Canoeing
If you love the energy of the white water events, a canoeing safari is an excellent option to get the adrenalin pumping and take in the sights of North Wales too.
Surf Snowdonia run canoeing safaris suitable for small groups, including families with older children, stag and hen parties too.
The route along the River Conwy is rated Grade II, so there may be some tidal effects and small waves – nothing too challenging for beginners and intermediates, and all under the watchful eye of qualified instructors from outdoor adventure experts Surf Lines.
2. North Wales sports: Skiing
Get a taste of the Winter Olympics all year round in Llandudno, at the John Nike Leisuresport Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre, open every day from 10am until 10pm (closing times can vary at weekends, so check in advance if you’re planning to ski into the late evening).
It’s a family-friendly facility with instructor training available, a ski club on Saturday evenings and a snowboard club until late on Mondays.
There’s also a 750m toboggan run, so you can get a taste of what the bobsleigh events might feel like for the riders – ‘feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, and pack your lucky egg for toboggan time!’
3. North Wales sports: Windsurfing
You may have heard that windsurfing was off the menu for Rio 2016, but that decision was later reversed (sorry, kitesurfers!).
Colwyn Bay Watersports offers excellent windsurfing facilities on the North Wales coastline, with year-round sessions for adults and juniors alike.
Don’t be daunted if you’re a beginner – that old image of hapless surfers falling off over and over isn’t really true anymore, with much more stable boards for first-timers.
And if there are family members who don’t want to take to the water, that’s fine too, as the colourful sails bobbing on the waves make for a great and memorable photo opportunity.
4. North Wales sports: Cycling – BMX
BMX made its first appearance in Beijing in 2008 and is very different from any other Olympic cycling event, although it is officially grouped in with the other two-wheeler disciplines.
Team GB’s Shanaze Reade narrowly missed out on medals in 2008 and 2012, and has since announced a permanent switch to track cycling – but the excitement of her involvement will keep BMX firmly in the mind of many Brits for many years to come.
Marsh Tracks in Rhyl has a national-standard BMX track equipped with the same Bensink starting gate that was used at London 2012, as well as a 1.3km closed circuit road route and a mountain biking course, catering for all outdoor cycling tastes.
5. North Wales sports: Open water swimming
Last but not least, North Wales has more than its fair share of open water swimming opportunities, including some frenzied white water routes.
Watkins Path waterfall on the ascent of Snowdon is one way to get back down the mountain in style, with a connected series of falls and plunge pools and fairly warm waters on a summer’s day.
The charmingly named Fairy Glen is a narrow gorge with a deep central channel for swimming, and flat rocks for sitting, surrounded by trees and greenery that gives the location its name.
And last of all on our list, Llyn Padarn offers lagoons and open water with few other swimmers the further out you get; there’s a public toilet and a wetsuit hire shop nearby, which also rents canoes and kayaks if you prefer to be on the water, rather than in it.