By Owen Morgan
Chris Type helped deliver Welsh Boxing’s most successful Commonwealth Games for more than 60 years in Birmingham last summer.
Now, he is aiming to help add some extra punch to Welsh Athletics’ ambition to build on the success enjoyed by track and field in Wales.
Last summer, Welsh athletes Olivia Breen and Aled Sion Davies won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, with Harrison Walsh earning bronze.
Less than a month later at the European Athletics Championships, Jeremiah Azu won a gold and bronze, while Jake Heyward claimed a silver medal.
Now, Type wants to consolidate that success and ensure Wales enjoys more on the world stage as the governing body’s new head of performance.
Speaking after last week’s Welsh Indoor Athletics Championships, Type, who was announced in his new role just before Christmas, said: “I think that should be the ultimate goal for every sport within Wales.
“I think that’s an area of sport where we really need to stamp our authority a little bit.
“The talent pools within a country our size aren’t comparable with England or your other larger nations.
“However, that doesn’t mean we can’t do what we do very, very well and ensure that we’ve got systems around talented athletes to make sure we can push them on to that highest level in the world.”
Type brings with him a wealth of sporting experience. In his seven years as performance director at Welsh Boxing, the 41-year-old oversaw two Commonwealth Games cycles.
After a successful Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, a number of Welsh boxers joined Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics where Lauren Price won gold.
Last summer, Welsh boxers brought home six medals from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games – the largest haul since 1958.
As well as his exploits with Welsh Boxing, he is a former Great Britain skeleton international and coach, as well as a talented pole vaulter.
Despite being no stranger to an athletics track, Type has spent the first few weeks in his new job on a learning brief.
Asked how he was settling into his new role, Type said: “It’s been a good three weeks.
“I’ve been trying to absorb as much information as I can and gather it all into one place is probably the best way to describe things so far.”
There was certainly plenty of evidence of the new man’s desire to supplement his knowledge during the first day of the indoor championships in Cardiff.
Type, who was a member of the Great Britain skeleton squad at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, circled the National Indoor Athletics Centre track, regularly stopping to engage in deep conversation as the action unfolded in front of him.
“I’ve had a great welcome, a great introduction,” says Type. “I think Welsh Athletics is in a very, very good place.
“As a national governing body, I’m very impressed with some of the work that’s been delivered right now across the other departments.
“And I think collaboratively we will move this sport forward and I think that’s effectively the remit for all of us who work within the governing body.”
Asked what he will be able to bring to what is essentially a new role within Welsh Athletics, Type said: “I think that diversity of thought is quite important for Welsh Athletics right now.
“And I think some of my experiences, both in the winter environments, and in the combat sports, can certainly add to that diversity of thinking.”
Although he doesn’t believe there is a direct crossover from his previous sports, Type says he will bring some principles with him.
“You have to treat each individual sport with the respect and understanding that every sport is different,” he said.
“However, there are principles that underpin them all. We need good education. We need good leadership. We need good technicians. We need good behaviours. We need good strong cultures that we can thrive in – for athletes and coaches within those environments.
“All of those things are basic principles that performance programmes should be built on. I think my experiences in boxing were fantastic, but they’re not something that’s directly transferable across.
“They’re just real key learning opportunities. I think they have probably allowed me to develop along a journey to a point now where I’m in a position with Welsh Athletics where we can add some real value to the performance athletes and the membership moving forward.
“My role is a combination of multiple roles from the previous Commonwealth cycle. So previously, Welsh Athletics has very much gone down a road of a head coach, type model, very technically orientated.
Former Great Britain pole vaulter and Winter Olympics skeleton competitor Chris Type has been appointed head of performance at Welsh Athletics 🏴 #BBCOlympics
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) December 20, 2022
“This head of performance role is far more strategically minded, very leadership driven in a way in which we start to put some of the foundations in place that are needed to move on. So, it’s a slightly different take on previous leadership roles.”
Type was impressed by what he saw on the National Indoor Athletics Centre over the weekend, particularly the performances of under-15 athletes such as Swansea Harrier Libby Hale, who broke the Welsh age group record over 1500m on Saturday,
Cardiff Athletics Bryony Boyce shattered the 3,000m record on Sunday and Lois Codling, of Newport Harriers claimed a new national 800m record.
“I think if we look back at the history within Welsh athletics, we’ve always had talented athletes,” said Type. “Coming here today and seeing some of the talent that is on offer is exciting.
“However, I also understand that translating that talent up the system into Olympic medals is no mean feat. I think there’s a lot of work to be done within the pathways that need to be put in place and also the development around those talented athletes.”
Many of Wales’ more established athletes, such as Azu, were competing away from Cardiff last week.
The hugely promising Cardiff sprinter was starring at the 2023 World Athletics Indoor Tour event in Dusseldorf where he won the 60m in 6.60 – just outside his PB.
Medal Winner Jeremiah Azu Looks To Conquer The World . . . And Pledges No Repeat Of “Nonsense” Rankings System
Type is looking forward to not only helping Welsh Athletics continuing to play a part in the development of the likes of Azu, but to ensure that more home-grown athletes join them on the global stage.
“They’re world class performance athletes, so their development opportunities really sit with UK Athletics,” said Type.
“Our role within that is to ensure that we dovetail our work with UKA to ensure that when they’re back in Wales we can wrap around the services that they need to continue their development and also have the support they need at home.
“It is obviously an exciting opportunity to work with those athletes, but I’m really ambitious within this role. And I want to see more athletes at that level.
“More importantly, I would like those athletes to go on to the next level and become world level athletes and deliver those high performances that will deliver medals in those major championships in the not-so-distant future.
“My remit is quite clear around what my performance responsibility is. However, I want to create a real understanding that my role isn’t a technical role. I have technical experts within various areas to deliver within that event group.
Good Luck to those competing at @WelshAthletics Junior Champs this weekend
— Cardiff Archers Athletics (@CardiffArchers) February 4, 2023
“My responsibility is to ensure that the structures are in place to continue the development of that event group that hopefully then we can influence the development of the athletes to go and deliver at a major championship in the future.”
With last year’s Commonwealth Games successes with Welsh Boxing now an increasingly distant memory, Type is completely focussed on preparing Welsh Athletics for the 2026 Games in Australia.
With the Victoria Games taking place in March of 2026, Type points out the event is now only just over three years away.
“We’re already a quarter of the way into the cycle,” he said. “I think where we are right now is in a position of taking stock, understanding exactly where our athletes are, understanding exactly where our coaches are, where our events are, and then using that information to make good decisions as to where we could prioritise investment moving forward.
“But also prioritise the areas of development, as well. And I think over this next three months, we should get ourselves into a position of real clarity and more importantly, evidence-based underpinning of all decisions that we make.”
Full results from the Welsh Indoor Athletics Championships can be found on the Welsh Athletics website.