Be a North Wales Olympian – North Wales sports you can try

This summer, Team GB’s Olympic heroes will be back on our screens, albeit a little further from home than they were during the hugely successful London 2012.
But while you’re watching the events of Rio 2016, remember you don’t have to go halfway around the world to try your hand at some of the sports that are featured – North Wales sports includes some Olympic gold-standard activities.

1. Sea kayaking

The open water sailing events and white water course both offer some of the most spectacular sights at the Olympics, and sea kayaking offers the best of both worlds on the Anglesey coastline.
It’s an inclusive sport – sailing and equestrian are the only two examples of where women and men compete for the same Olympic medals in some events.
And it doesn’t rely too much on predictable weather conditions, as there are sheltered bays, small offshore islands and rugged rocky stretches of coast to provide variety whatever the weather.

2. Skiing

There won’t be any skiing in Rio obviously – it’s a Winter Olympics event – but we had to include it here for the excellent facilities at Plas y Brenin.
You can ski all year round on the artificial slope, which has capacity for up to 30 people at any one time, and is open seven days a week.
Weekend sessions run from 10:30am to 6pm, while on weekdays the slope opens from 1pm to 9pm, giving you the chance to end a day there after exploring elsewhere in the region.

3. Cycling

Long-distance cycling often provides the best chance to see the sights of any Olympic host city, and the same is true of the cycle routes around North Wales.
The Anglesey coastal route covers 60 miles, making it a good intermediate option that should take a reasonably fit rider less than a day to complete even with sightseeing stops along the way.
Views along the route include Snowdonia and the Menai Strait, Holy Island by Holyhead, and Parys Mountain where copper was once mined.
There are a few climbs so, if you’re not used to going uphill, try to avoid an unsettled day when you might encounter a headwind – most of the route is on A-roads though, so the surface should be good.

4. Open water swimming

Again, if you don’t like the events that are ‘trapped’ inside a stadium, velodrome or aquatics centre, then open water swimming is likely to be higher up your list. It’s one of the most memorable of all North Wales sports.
The Anglesey coastline offers a great chance to get into the open water and explore the cliffs and crags on a coasteering course.
You may see this referred to as ‘wild swimming’, and while it’s a bit different from the long-distance open water swimming you see in the Olympics, it’s a fantastic way to see Anglesey from a very different angle.

5. Rock climbing

Finally, if skiing isn’t your thing, Plas y Brenin’s rock climbing courses might be just what you need – and yes, it is an Olympic sport!
Climbing was included under the name ‘Alpinism’ in 1924-36 and is shortlisted for a comeback in Tokyo in 2020, with a decision on that due in summer 2016. Climbing is one of the most popular of all North Wales sports.
At the Olympics the events would take place on an artificial climbing wall, but at Plas y Brenin there’s a whole range of natural cliffs to scale.
Rock types include limestone, dolerite, slate, quartzite and rhyolite, and standard courses range from two to five days, with an intensive 12-day rapid development clinic if you’re serious about honing your skills to a gold-medal standard.
Image: courtesy of Defence via Flickr

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