NUMBER ONE: Iori Humphreys is ranked the number one 800 metre runner in Wales and the UK for his age group. (12131685)
This week Bill Carne chats to 11 year old Iori Humphreys, who is ranked No 1 for his age group in the whole of the UK for his 800 metres running, and is also hugely successful in a range of other sports...
At just 11 years of age Iori Humphreys has already earned a huge reputation as a cross country and middle distance runner of immense potential and in the latter he is not only ranked No 1 in Wales for 800 metres but in the United Kingdom too.
But Iori, who lives in Hundleton with his parents Leah and Neil, plus sister Eve, could never be accused of being a youngster who has that single sporting talent because he also excels in cricket, football, rugby and tennis – enjoys a game of golf where he regularly beats dad and has recorded three scores of 180 as they enjoy the odd match in the garage at home!
Throw in the fact that Iori has also won the Iron Kids Wales competition for his age group on the only two years he has entered and it is part of an ever-growing list of achievements!
It is athletics that Iori has made a meteoric rise from the time that he was Year Two at Orielton School and mistakenly took part in the Year Three cross country and won it. Head teacher Mr Mark Owen, whose son Harry is a top gymnast, recognised Iori’s potential and entered him for the Urdd Welsh Championships in Aberystwyth and he won that as well.
From there it was on to the Pembrokeshire harriers where he has been nurtured by Peter Freeman and the other coaches – and trains regularly with talented older athletes like Rhian Homer and Matthew Williams, who are also good influences
He recently competed in the Gerald Codd Memorial 800 metres and broke the record, as he did in the Louise Arthur League, competing against the best athletes in his year group across South Wales, and winning all the races in the series.
Iori broke the record at the Swansea Junior Games and his personal best, which is also the Welsh and UK records, stands at an impressive 2’29”.
It is a similar story in cross country, where Iori has taken part in the Pembrokeshire Junior Schools’ Cross Country for the past four years at Oakwood and won each year before going on to the regional races at Dinefwr Park, Carmarthen, and then the Welsh Schools at Builth Wells and Llandeilo, and maintaining that unbeaten tag.
In the Gwent League Cross Country for the 2013/14 season there have been five races over five months at Pontypridd, Bath, Bridgend, Bristol, Brecon, and Iori came a creditable third overall as he was competing against athletes a year older than he was.
Iori has also enjoyed success in his other sports, not least in his football where he has played for the Hundleton under 11s coached by Andrew Woods and Mike Allen, as well as under the watchful eye of Angie Nicholls in the county under 11s as a central defender. He also trains with the Cardiff City Development squad at Llangyfelach and was recently spotted by a Swansea City scout who has offered him a trial with the Swans in the future
Then there’s rugby, where he plays outside half for a Pembroke RFC junior team at Crickmarren which hasn’t lost for two seasons, following in dad’s footsteps because Neil was a gritty flanker with the Scarlets who loved tackling and the real graft of the game for over a decade. Iori can do all that but has skill which he has inherited from somewhere!
In cricket, Iori plays as a fast bowler and middle order batsman for Hundleton under 11's, the county under 10's and under 11's, and has recently been selected for Welsh Cricket under 11's trials.
Throw in some tennis, where he is runner up in both the primary schools county tennis tournament and the County Tennis Tournament itself, his golf and darts and it is hard to understand how he can also pack in his homework, carefully watched by mum Leah, who is a teacher herself and makes sure it is done well!!
His weekly sporting schedule shows how carefully it is constructed as he enjoys every minute:
Mondays: County Football training with Angie Nicholls or Welsh Cricket training at Llandarcy
Tuesdays: Training with Pembrokeshire Harriers at STP School in Haverfordwest
Wednesdays: Rugby training with Pembroke RFC
Thursdays: Harriers again with his middle-distance training
Fridays: Football training at Llandarcy (yet more travel!)
Saturdays: Football in the mornings and a treat in the afternoons because the pair have season tickets with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, or a game of golf if the weather is good and the Swans are playing away!
Sundays: Rugby in the mornings or sometimes running in the Gwent League for the Harriers in the afternoon.
For those who gasp at such a timetable it is worth recording the information that Iori loves every second and his parents merely support him in whatever he chooses to do.
Perhaps best of all is the fact that all his coaches say that Iori is a modest, very pleasant, balanced and popular young man with his peer group and is always ready to encourage others.
Indeed, Peter Freeman, one of the most respected coaches in South Wales, told us,
“Iori is an exceptional runner for his age and is head and shoulders above most in South Wales and beyond.
“That’s why he is ranked No 1 in Great Britain.
“He rarely misses a training session, despite all he does in other sports, and trains very hard.
“He is a pleasure to have in our squad.”
There will come a time when he has to decide in which sports he wants to specialise but in the meanwhile isn’t it great to see a young feller like Iori Humphreys, who just loves taking part.
Long may he continue to enjoy being involved so successfully – and always with a smile on his face!