The 5 Biggest International Sporting Events to be held in Wales
Wales is a sports mad country. Rugby may be the national sport, and football is, of course, immensely popular too, but Wales has also produced great cyclists, Olympians and cricketers, for example. Wales also loves a sports occasion, and the country (well, Cardiff at least), has been blessed in being able to host a range of major sporting events over the years, especially since the creation of the Millennium Stadium in 1999.
Over the last 21 years, an array of massive sporting events have come to Cardiff, especially in terms of Rugby World Cup matches in three different years, and English FA Cup and League Cup finals early in the 21st century. It hasn't all been about rugby and football however, as Wales has also hosts major a event in Speedway every year. In cricket, the Ashes have come to Cardiff in 2009 and 2015, and the World Half Marathon Championships were held in Cardiff in 2016 as well, for example.
Cardiff has got itself a reputation as a sporting event city at this stage (as well as a stag party city) due to the number of events that take place regularly either around the city or in what is now the Principality Stadium. The national stadium is potentially the most recognisable rugby stadium in the world, it is the biggest stadium in Europe with a retractable roof and is arguably the most well known building internationally of any kind in the country. Flocking to the Welsh capital for sport is now a given, and not just by people within Wales, but from around the UK.
The range of international sporting occasions that the small country of Wales has hosted is unbelievable. Some of the biggest sporting events in the world have now been held here, so with that in mind, here are just five of the biggest, most international, most spectacular and most watched sporting events that have ever taken place in Wales historically.
The 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games
The first major international sporting event, and perhaps still the biggest, to be hosted in Wales were the Empire Games in 1958. The Games were the forerunner to what we now consider to be the Commonwealth Games. It was the sixth iteration of the event, albeit hosted 12 years later by Cardiff than originally planned due to the Second World War, and Wales remains the smallest country to have hosted either the Empire or Commonwealth Games today.
The Games took place between 18-26 July 1958. Thirty-five nations sent a total of 1,122 athletes and 228 officials to the Cardiff Games. Across 94 events, 23 countries and dependencies won medals, including for the first time, Singapore, Ghana, Kenya and the Isle of Man. Australia and England dominated the medal table, so some things never change in that regard. Only nine sports were featured in the Cardiff Games, compared to 31 today, which were Athletics, Boxing, Cycling, Fencing, Lawn Bowls, Rowing, Swimming and Diving, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
The British Empire and Commonwealth Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies, were held at the Cardiff Arms Park in the centre of Cardiff. A new Wales Empire Pool was constructed for the event, on Wood St next to the Arms Park. The Sophia Gardens Pavilion was used for the boxing and wrestling events, and Maindy Stadium was used for cycling. Rowing took place a little further away, on Llyn Padarn in Llanberis, and cycling took place over a loop at Ogmore-by-Sea.
Additionally, the athletes' village was at RAF St. Athan, which is also a regularly haunt of Doctor Who incidentally. Unsurprisingly, accommodation was fairly basic. Overall, 178,000 tickets were eventually sold during the Game